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A Titan Beginning
The New York Jets were born on August 14, 1959, but not born as the New York Jets. They were born the New York Titans, when Harry Wismer was granted a New York franchise for a league that was in its infant stages, the American Football League. The first draft took place on November 22 that year, with the Titans taking Notre Dame's QB George Izo with their first ever draft pick. Slingin' Sammy Baugh was named the team's first ever head coach.
The first player ever to sign a contract did so on January 1, 1960, and it was a player that made his mark for years to come. Don Maynard, after playing a year in the CFL, signed with the Titans as a free agent. The Titans called the Polo Grounds home, and had a successful debut, beating Buffalo 27-3. The Titans finished 7-7 in 1960, as they did in 1961 as well.
1962 was a year of change and transition for the New York Titans. Prior to the season, Clyde Turner was named coach to replace Sammy Baugh. November 8, while the Titans were on the way to a 5-9 finish, Harry Wismer was unable to meet the payroll for the team, and the AFL assumed the costs of running the team for the rest of 1962.
Jets Takeoff for Long Flight to Super Bowl III
On March 28, 1963 a five member group led by Sonny Werblin, and that included Leon Hess, bought the franchise for the now meager price of $1 million. April 15, thanks to the "jet age", and Shea Stadium's proximity to local airports, the Titans were renamed the Jets, and thus the team was reborn. At the same time, Weeb Ewbank was named coach and general manager of the team. Matt Snell was chosen in that year's AFL draft and subsequently signed, becoming the first No.1 pick to sign with the team. They finished 5-8-1 in their rebirth year.
They finished with the same record in 1964 although some important historical points happened that year. The Jets became official residents of Shea Stadium in 1964, winning the season opener on September 12, 30-6 over the Denver Broncos. On November 28, the Jets traded the rights to Jerry Rhome, their 25th round pick, to Houston for a first round pick. With that pick they chose a flashy quarterback from Alabama by the name of Joe Namath. Matt Snell was named AFL rookie of the year.
January 2, 1965, Joe Namath signed a then pro football record contract worth $427,000. 23 days later, he underwent the first of many knee surgeries that would plague Joe throughout his career. He was named AFL rookie of the year after posting stats of 164-240 18 TDS and 15 INTs, and the Jets posted another 5-8-1 record.
June 8, 1966, the AFL-NFL merger was agreed upon, and the leagues agreed to play a world championship game following the 1966 season. The Jets posted their first .500 record in 1966, posting a 6-6-2 mark.
1967 was the first winning record the Jets posted in their history, going 8-5-1. Joe Namath became the first QB in league history to throw for over 4,000 yards in a single season.
1968 will live in the heart of Jets fans forever. The Jets moved training camp to Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. This is the season that involved the Heidi Game, which took place November 17, 1968 in Oakland, California against the Raiders. The Jets were leading 32-29 with 1:05 to play, when the TV networks left the game to show the movie "Heidi" as it was scheduled. The viewing public did not see the Raiders score 2 TDs in the final minute to win the game 43-32. This did not keep the Jets from an 11-3 record, and the AFL Championship, beating the Raiders 27-23 before 62,627 fans at Shea Stadium.
Which set up the now landmark Super Bowl III, the NFL champion Baltimore Colts vs. the New York Jets. Joe Namath guaranteed that the Jets would win the game, in the now famous story. He made good on his guarantee, leading the Jets past the heavily favored Colts 16-7 at the Orange Bowl. The Jets led the game 16-0, before legend Johnny Unitas came off the bench to lead the Colts to their only TD of the game. Namath was named MVP of the game, and established the teams from the AFL as a force to be reckoned with.
May 17, 1969, the merger between the AFL and the NFL was complete, as the Jets were placed in the newly formed AFC East, along with the Colts, Bills, Patriots, and Dolphins. Joe Namath had become under scrutiny from the NFL, due to his ownership of a Manhattan bar named Bachelors III. On June 6, he decided to retire rather than divest his ownership. 6 weeks later, Namath announced the sale of his interest in the bar and returned to the Jets. The Jets finished 10-4 in 1969 to close out the 1960s.
Following the Jets history making victory in Super Bowl III, the Jets had a very disappointing decade of the 1970s, not recording a record over .500 once during the decade. They finished the season with a .500 record 4 times in the decade.
The Jets were part of history on September 21, 1970, when they played in the first ever Monday Night Football game against the Cleveland Browns. They fell to the Browns 31-21 and were on their way to a 4-10 mark, but Monday night was forever set in the weekly plans of American football fans.
Joe Namath underwent one of many knee surgeries in 1971 while the team was on its way to a 6-8 finish. On December 11, 1972, Don Maynard became the all-time leading receiver when he made his 632nd reception during a Monday Night game against Oakland, that the Jets eventually lost and eliminated them from playoff contention. They wound up 7-7 in 1972.
Weeb Ewbank, the only coach ever to take the Jets to the Super Bowl (and win), coached his final season in 1973, assistant Charley Winner was hired to take his place in 1974. His last game took place on December 16, 1973, but was overshadowed by OJ Simpson, whos 200 yard effort made him the first ever rusher to rush over 2,000 yards in a single season.
In 1974, the Jets completed their move to Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, where they currently reside today. Weeb Ewbank resigned as VP of the Jets that year, a year which ended with 6 consecutive victories to wind up 7-7.
After a 4-10 1975 season, the Jets signed Lou Holtz to become their coach for 1976. With one game left that season, Lou Holtz decided that he wasn't right for the NFL game, and resigned as head coach, leaving assistant coach Mike Holovak to coach the season finale, a 42-3 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, leaving the team 3-11, and was Joe Namath's final game as a New York Jet.
Walt Michaels reign as Jets head coach began in 1977. Leon Hess was named as the acting president that year as well. This year marked the end of an era for the New York Jets, as Joe Namath ended his Jets career, signing with the Los Angeles Rams as a free agent after a trade attempt was unsuccessful.
Weeb Ewbank was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1978, and this marked the year that the Jets changed their logo for the first time since becoming the Jets from the Titans, changing to the logo we became familiar with in the 1980s and 1990s, until Bill Parcells went back to the previous logo. After keeping the Jets in playoff contention for 15 weeks, and leading the team to an 8-8 record, Walt Michaels was named 1978 Coach of the Year.
On October 15, 1979, the Jets defeated the Minnesota Vikings 14-7 at Shea Stadium, marking a win in the first Monday Night Football game to originate in the New York City area. 3 division wins to end the season brought the Jets to an 8-8 record to close out the 1970s.
The 1980s began very unimpressively for the New York Jets, beginning with a 4-12 1980 season. Two highlights came in defeat, when QB Richard Todd set the NFL record for completions in a game with 42, and FB Clark Gaines caught 17 of those passes to set a team record which still stands, in a September 21 loss to the 49ers at Shea Stadium.
1981 was a birth of a new era, starting with Leon Hess becoming 75 % owner of the team. The team finished 10-5-1, returning to the playoffs for the first time since 1969. The New York Sack Exchange came to life in 1981 when Joe Klecko and Mark Gastineau finished first and second in the league in sacks, with 20.5 and 20 respectively. In the wild card game, the Jets were down 24-0 to the Buffalo Bills, staging a furious comeback before falling 31-27 at Shea.
1982 was an interesting year in Jets history, especially for the Jets/Dolphins rivalry. This was the year of the player strike, which shortened the season to 9 games, followed by a 16 team playoff formula. The Jets finished 6-3 and returned to the playoffs as a wild card team. After blowing out the Bengals and squeaking past the Los Angeles Raiders, the stage was set in Miami for the AFC championship game between the Jets and Dolphins on January 23, 1983. The night before, torrential rain overtook the Orange Bowl, and the field was left uncovered, which caused the field to be a quagmire by gametime. The Jets speed was neutralized, and 5 Richard Todd interceptions later, the Jets had fallen 14-0. Coach Walt Michaels publicly accused the Dolphins of leaving the field uncovered to sabbotage the Jets, further cementing the rivalry for years to come. Weeks later, Walt Michaels retired, and was replaced by offensive coordinator Joe Walton.
1983 was the Jets final season calling Shea Stadium home, sighting the rundown quality of the facility as the reason for the move, announcing plans to join the Giants at the Meadowlands beginning in the 1984 season. The final season in Queens ended with a 7-9 record and a 34-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Leon Hess became the full owner in 1984. After a disappointing 7-9 campaign in 1984, the Jets 1985 began with a first. Joe Namath was the first Jets player elected for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame in January, followed by having his number retired by the Jets early in the season. The Jets responded with an 11-5 record and a Wild Card appearance. On November 17, they scored the most points in team history, beating Tampa Bay 62-28. Ken O'Brien finished 1985 with a 96.2 passer rating, becoming the first Jets QB to lead the NFL in passer rating.
1986 was a tale of 2 half seasons for the New York Jets. They came out like gangbusters, winning 10 out of their first 11 games, including a thriller on September 21 at the Meadowlands against the Miami Dolphins. The final was 51-45 in overtime, with Dan Marino and Ken O'Brien combining for 884 net passing yards, still an NFL record. O'Brien and Wesley Walker combined for 4 TD passes in the game, including the tying and winning TDs.
Then the injuries came, including to DT Joe Klecko and Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Mehl. This sent the team into a tailspin, losing their final five games, and limping into the playoffs as a wild card entry. After beating the Chiefs in the wild card game, then came a now epic battle against the Cleveland Browns. Leading 20-10 late in the game following a Freeman McNeil TD run, Bernie Kosar seemed to throw an insignificant, and drive ending incomplete pass. However, Mark Gastineau was called for a late hit on the QB, the drive was extended, and the Browns ended up tying the game at 20. Two overtimes later, the Jets were out of the playoffs thanks to a Mark Moseley field goal. The Jets were not to return to the playoffs in the decade.
In fact, the Jets only finished over .500 once more in the decade with an 8-7-1 finish in 1988. The highlight that year was a TD from Ken O'Brien to Al Toon late in the final game of the season against the Giants, giving them the win and knocking the Giants out of playoff contention. 1988 was surrounded by a 6-9 finish in 1987 and a 4-12 finish to close the decade.
The 1990s began with a new coach for the New York Jets, in Cincinnati offensive coordinator Bruce Coslet. He made one trip to the playoffs during his four year tenure as coach, with an 8-8 finish in 1991. They made the playoffs by squeaking in after beating the Dolphins on the final week of the season on a last second field goal by Raul Allegre.
They never went back to the playoffs under Coslet, despite acquiring his star from Cincinnati, quarterback Boomer Esiason in 1993 which ended up being Coslet's final year. They finished 8-8 in 1993 under jeers of "Cut Bruce Loose" from the Meadowlands faithful.
Pete Carroll took over the team in 1994, and started well going 6-5 through the early going, leading to a memorable matchup once again between the Jets and their archrival Miami Dolphins, with the AFC East lead up for grabs. The Jets were leading late, before Dan Marino invoked the "fake spike" TD pass to Mark Ingram, a 28-24 stunner, and the Jets losing the rest of their games finishing 6-10, and ending Pete Carroll's time as Jets' coach.
The following year Rich Kotite was hired as Jets coach. He was their 2 years, compiling records of 3-13 in 1995 and 1-15 in 1996. The brightest lights of the 2 years were new wide receivers Wayne Chrebet and Keyshawn Johnson, who clearly identified themselves as young stars for years to come.
Then in 1997, the fireworks now known as the Jets-Patriots rivalry begins. The Jets begin negotiations to hire Bill Parcells, unhappy to not be in total control in New England, to become the coach and head of football operations. However, he is still under contract, so the Jets hire Bill Belichick as the coach, and name Bill Parcells as a consultant to the team, who will take over as coach the following season. This sparked a dispute that ended up in front of commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who ruled that Parcells could become the Jets leader immediately, in return for draft pick compensation from the Jets. Thus, the Tuna era begins in New Jersey.
The Jets finished 9-7 in 1997, only missing the playoffs with a 13-10 loss to the Detroit Lions in the final week of the season. The Jets solidified their turnaround in the off season, signing Curtis Martin as a restricted free agent. Now the Jets had a top flight running back to go with their young wide receivers and vastly improved defense. 1998 was set for a big season.
The Jets went 12-4 and won their second division title in team history in 1998. They won their game at the Meadowlands 34-24 over the Jaguars and moved on to the AFC Championship in Denver. They were leading at halftime, before Denver took over and won 23-10 going away. It turned out to be the final game that long time owner Leon Hess saw, as he died shortly after the 1998 season, leaving the team in the hand of his estate for the time being.
1999 was called by Bill Parcells, the hardest season he ever spent in coaching. AFter the large 1998 campaign, the Jets were favored, and primed to make a 1999 run at the Super Bowl. In week 1, however, Vinny Testaverde, coming off his career best season in 1998, ruptured his achilles tendon, and the team never fully recovered. Rick Mirer took over the team and did a poor job, Ray Lucas then took over and led the team to a 6-2 second half, but all that led to was an 8-8 end of the 1990s.
A New Millenium
The Jets started a new millennium in a bit of turmoil. Bill Parcells resurrected the team in the late 90s, culminating with a 1998 season finishing 12-4 and coming within a half of reaching the Super Bowl. Now as we moved into the new century, and the team ownership was lacking direction following the death of Leon Hess, Parcells resigned as head coach on January 3, staying on in the front office. Bill Belichick was annoited the head coach and in a stunning and odd situation, resigned one day later. Al Groh was then elevated to the position of head coach for the 2000 season. Also prior to the season, Keyshawn Johnson was traded to Tampa Bay, and the Jets ended up with 4 first round picks, where 4 influential members of the team's future were chosen, Shaun Ellis, John Abraham, Chad Pennington, and Anthony Becht. A season highlight was the "Miracle at the Meadowlands", where the Jets came storming back on Monday night to a 40-37 win over the Miami Dolphins. The Jets finished 9-7 that season, missing the playoffs.
Following the 2000 season, Al Groh left the Jets to become the head coach at the University of Virginia. Bill Parcells and new owner Woody Johnson went about the search for a new general manager and a new coach for the new era. They tapped Terry Bradway as the GM, who in turn named Herman Edwards as the head coach.
The Jets went to the playoffs three out of five of Herman Edwards' seasons with the team, including a surprising division win on the last day of the season in 2002 with a 42-17 drubbing of the Green Bay Packers in week 17. They went on to beat the Indianapolis Colts the following week 41-0 in a Wild Card game to remember. Chad Pennington led the NFL in passer rating that season with 104.2 rating.
The next year began the injuries for Chad, starting with preseason broken wrist against the Giants, costing him the first 6 weeks of the season. His first rotator cuff injury occurred late in the 2004 season, despite a 10-6 finish and a heroic effort in the playoffs. It was reinjured in early 2005 and cost Pennington the majority of the 2005 season.
Following the 2005 season, Herman Edwards bolted to the Kansas City Chiefs despite a contract that 2 more years on it. Terry Bradway was relieved of his duties as GM as well, promoting Mike Tannenbaum to the role. The coaching search brought in young blood, Eric Mangini, defensive coach of the rival Patriots. He brought in a new energy and passion to the team, and they made a resurgence in 2006, with a 10-6 record and a wild card appearance. Chad Pennington was named comeback player of the year.
The New York Jets had a disappointing 2007 campaign, finishing with a disappointing 4-12 record. Jerricho Cotchery finished with his first 1,000 yard receiving season of his career, and newly acquired running back Thomas Jones became the 5th running back in team history to rush for over 1,000 yards.
Rookie of the Year
Record Per Season
All Time Records
Single Season Records
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