by Frank Barone
I have always had an interest in historical events. So the combination of my love of history and the New York Jets led me to do some research on the Jets and their inception. A few things I found out surprised me, and I hope some of this will give our JetNation members some historical perspective to the start of the Jets organization.
The incarnation of the New York begins in 1962. The Titans were broke and disorganized. On March 28, 1963, the Gotham Football Club, Inc., purchased the franchise and its assets for $1 million in a sale approved by the bankruptcy court and by the American Football League. The Gotham Football Club was a corporation owned by five men: David (Sonny) Werblin, president of MCA-TV, Donald Lillis, partner in a stock brokerage firm, Townsend Martin, a banker; Philip Iselin, an officer of Monmouth Park racetrack in New Jersey and Leon Hess, an oil executive. Looking back, this was a truly impressive group of people to be the original owners of the New York Jets franchise. This was a wealthy and diverse group backing the franchise from its beginnings.
In an ironic twist to the recent search for a Jets stadium, the New York City government promised the Titans that they would be the joint tenants of Shea Stadium with the New York Mets. Shea Stadium was in the process of being built and hoped to open in the summer of 1963, in time for the Mets to finish their season there. The Titans could move in as soon as the baseball season ended.
So, you can see, the Jets have been stepsisters for their entire history in sharing stadiums. In April 1963 Sonny Werblin made two changes to the former Titans. One was that the Titans would be renamed our beloved New York Jets. The second would be that the team colors would be green and white, replacing the black and gold of the Titans. So if you hate our team colors, you now know who is responsible. He also announced that the Jets had hired Weeb Ewbank as head coach and general manager. Weeb Ewbank had been fired by the Baltimore Colts after nine years as head coach. He had taken that team to NFL championships in 1958 and 1959.
The team held their pre-season training camp at the Peekskill Military Academy in Peekskill, New York. Peekskill is about forty miles north of midtown New York City.
Talk about the distance and the logistical problems incurred between operating between Hofstra and the Meadowlands, go ahead and try Peekskill and Flushing. A good manager, or coach in this case, surrounds himself with good people as peers and subordinates. Weebâ€™s assistant coaches were as follows (I will let the names speak for themselves on the quality of the coaches on that first staff):
Clive Rush coached the offensive backfield. He had been the head coach at the University of Toledo. Chuck Knox was in charge of the offensive line. He came from an assistant coaching position at Kentucky. Walt Michaels was responsible for the defensive line. Jack Donaldson was responsible for the defensive backfield. He had been an assistant to Rush at the University of Toledo.
Letâ€™s just hope our next coach can put together a coaching staff with the same degree of NFL experience and knowledge that Weeb assembled for the Jets in their very beginnings.