Alex Kroll Writes about his days as a New York Titan

Autographed 1963 Fleer Alex KrollIn these days of multi-million dollar player contracts and multi-billion dollar television deals, it is easy to overlook the fact that many professional football franchises had very humble beginnings.  While Lamar Hunt, Barron Hilton and Bud Adams had seemingly limitless wealth, and their teams did not suffer from lack of finances, other teams were not nearly as fortunate.  The Oakland Raiders, Denver Broncos and Boston Patriots were all on shaky financial ground in the beginning, but before the New York Jets shocked the nation by defeating the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, they went by the name of “Titans,” and gave new meaning to the phrase “financial difficulty.”

Alex Kroll was a highly decorated college football player as a senior in 1961.  After his graduation from Rutgers University in the Summer of 1962, Kroll went to training camp with the New York Titans, who had drafted him in the second round of the AFL Draft.  Unfortunately for Kroll, he joined the Titans in what was to be their final season.  A number of factors contributed to the Titans’ demise, including the outlandish “leadership” of owner Harry Wismer, and his frequently empty bank account.  Having a stable franchise in New York, the media capital of the world, was seen as a must by all involved with the AFL, so the league eventually stepped in and took over management of the moribund franchise just before it completely imploded.

Alex Kroll played just one season before leaving professional football and becoming a highly successful executive with the Young & Rubicam Advertising Agency.  But in 1969, several months after the New York Jets were victorious in that famous Super Bowl game, Kroll recorded his New York Titans memories in a fantastic article for Sports Illustrated, called The Last of the Titans.  As much as anything else I have ever read, this article describes the circus-like atmosphere that surrounded the Titans, and the many “off the field” issues that these players had to endure to continue participating in the sport that they loved.  This article is well-worth your time, and should provide you with more than a few  good laughs.  Enjoy!

Todd Tobias (790 Posts)

Todd Tobias's interest in the American Football League began in 1998, when he wrote my master's thesis about Sid Gillman. He created this site to educate and entertain football fans with the stories of the American Football League, 1960-1969. You can follow Todd and get more AFL history on Twitter @TalesfromtheAFL.

6 Responses to Alex Kroll Writes about his days as a New York Titan

  1. Tom says:

    In 1954 Santa Monica Hi Lee Grosscup and San Diego Hi Art Powell were both top performers in the CIF SS. Art Powells’ San Diego High teammate and other end was 16 year MLB star Deron Johnson. Compton Centennial High Schools Paul Lowe and teammates twin brothers Eddis and Charles McNeal were also top performers and Brady Keys LA Polytechnic High School was a top LA City performer that year. Charles McNeal was All AFL 1st Team in 1961 for the Chargers at DB and set the single game interception return yardage record with 177, a record that has lasted 50 years. Hard to beleive that both McNeals were high school lineman throwing blocks for Lowe, Charles at guard and Eddis at Tackle. Tragically in 1994 Charles ended his own life.

    Thanks Todd for sharing the SI article.

    • Todd Tobias says:

      Fantastic stuff as always, Tom. San Diego High put out some incredible athletes in those days. Art Powell’s brother, Charlie, was incredible, also!

      • Tom says:

        Charlie Powell San Diego Hi was named by sportwiters “The End De-Luxe” was a man against boys, seriously injured in 1950 his senior year at San Diego Hi, played in only 7 games and was named CIF Player of the Year. Hardiman Cureton Monrovia was the other top end. Rommie Loudd Jefferson Hi and Leon Clarke Venice were top LA City ends. Marv Goux was a senior at Santa Barbara and Jim Hannifan was at Covina. Brig and Marv Owens older relation Jewell Owens was at Fullerton, Don Shinnicks older brother Dick was at Narbonne and all time winningest St Paul High School football coach Marion Ancich was at San Pedro.
        Arguably the finest three sport star Baseball, Basketball and Football the CIF SS ever produced Marty Keough was a Pomona Hi Junior. In 1951 Marty Keough was named Football Player of the Year. Bill Kilmer Citrus Hi is considered by many the finest but if you exchage baseball for track or those that participated in all four sports football, basketball, baseball and track the debate becomes exteremly interesting and would include Charlie and Art along with some of the elite athletes the world ever produced.

        Thanks again Todd for your blog and time.

  2. Tom says:

    Spelling correction on Eddis and Charles last name its McNeil.

  3. […] York Titans owner, Harry Wismer, had to compete against the New York Giants for football fans in the Big Apple.  When a reporter […]

  4. […] career with the Washington Redskins, strikes a familiar pose after signing as head coach of the New York Titans of the new American Football League here today.  Baugh has been coach of Hardin-Simmons College, […]

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