Once Upon a Time the Titans Took the Field!
Perhaps many do not remember that there was once – back in 1959 – a group of men referred to as The Titans of New York. No, these were not Wall Street men, or Donald Trump wannabe’s, they were good old American football players who began their careers in the American Football League, until merging with the NFL. The Titans began to play in 1960 at the Polo Grounds – then on to Shea Stadium – and then to a true home for all the team’s fans – the Meadowlands.
The very first meeting of the American Football League was held in 1959, where a man by the name of Harry Wismer, a representative of the City of New York, came out and said that NYC was big enough and bad enough for another professional football team. Leave it to New York to make sure that all the world knew they were still the ‘City of all City’s.’ Wismer was granted the charter franchise he later called, The Titans of New York. And…why choose this name? Because Wismer actually told everyone that Titans were far bigger than Giants – and they already had the Giants!
The real problem for the Titans, however, was lack of money. They played on a hideous field at the Polo Grounds and by 1962, the debt continued to mount. This, of course, made Wismer‘s ‘claim’ wrong and the AFL had to take on all the costs of the team until the season came to an end.
The Titans were headed into bankruptcy when a man by the name of Sonny Warblin saved the team from disappearing off the grid forever. Purchasing the Titans for a measly one million bucks, he was also given another special ‘gift’ that, perhaps, changed the tide for all involved. The gift was their name – they became the New York Jets! Yet another gift came with this name change – and one of the best ‘gifts’ that a franchise down on their luck could receive – a fantastic quarterback who would go down in the history books. Enter…Joe Namath, who took the Jets from nobody’s to somebody’s! And no one will ever forget when the Jets became the most talked about and most beloved team. It was in 1969 when Namath said – and DID – bring down the “sure-winners of Super Bowl III” – the Baltimore Colts. This was the first time that the AFL was EVER taken seriously as being a true and unbeatable football team.
Unfortunately, when the AFL and NFL became one, Namath and the team seemed to go from winners, back to contenders, back to obsolete. The only spot of light seemed to come in the 1980’s when the Jets had a surprising string of wins before heading to the 1982 AFC Championship Game.
Unfortunately, the 1990s were all about head coaches. From men named Coslet to Hess to Carroll – all these names came and went. Then, a man named Kotite gave it a shot and it all went from bad to worse, as he led the Jets to the NFL’s worst record for two consecutive years.
Oddly enough – here begins one of the biggest rivalries in all of sports! Bill Parcells – the head coach of the New England Patriots – was about as unhappy with his job as one can get. So what to do? Head to your rival team. Parcells came in and literally showed the world that the Jets were actually STILL a football team, and not just a joke to be told over Sunday dinner. They headed to the AFC Championship Game with Parcells in 1998, but then – yet another lull began.
With the owner passing away, Parcells stepped down as head coach and gave it to his assistant – who quickly resigned and headed straight to the Patriots. However, that wasn’t all. The Jets signed Pro Bowl running back, Curtis Martin, away from the Patriots, who brought the Jets far more success.
Now, a frightening incident that increased this rivalry occurred on September 23, 2001 – when a Jets linebacker tackled then, star quarterback, Drew Bledsoe, and caused the veteran internal bleeding. This was when Tom Brady stepped in and brought the Patriots to win three Super Bowls!
Another truly historic rivalry will always be the New York Jets versus their ‘home-town brothers,’ the New York Giants. The apex of this rivalry, as everyone agrees, came in 1969 when the teams met for the very first time. This was a preseason game which was called a “turf-war” by the opponents. Yes, the Giants weren’t exactly considered a fantastic team in 1969, so the Jets did take the game, 37–14. This all came back home in 1988 when both teams were shooting for something very important to them. The Jets’ playoff hopes were there – but not looking good in 1999. But the Giants were playing for the much-needed playoff spot, and this one last win would not only give them their spot – but would also give them the division title.
Apparently, when you’re against your rivals and don’t have much to lose – THAT is when you destroy dreams. Even though the Giants were odds-on favorites, the Jets defense sacked their quarterback eight times, eliminating the Giants from the playoffs and gaining a bit more respect from their fans.
Pretty hard to believe, considering that these two teams ALSO share the same stadium and each own fifty percent of the property. Apparently, they can “stay in the same room with each other” as long as they don’t have to be on the field at the same time.
But really, let’s be honest everyone, no matter what the Jets ever do or become – 1969 will always be their banner year. No football fan – or human, period – will ever forget Joe Namath publicly guaranteeing New York’s victory over the Colts, making himself and the 1969 Jets immortal!