Category Archives: Sonny Werblin
After four seasons of AFL play at New York’s Polo Grounds, the New York Jets began play in Shea Stadium in 1964, with a 30-6 victory over the Denver Broncos. The club commemorated the evening with a page in the 1964 team yearbook.
The site, Today in Pro Football History, published detailed article of the game on September 12, 2010, which can be found below:
Much is said about Joe Namath and his $427,000 rookie contract, and rightfully so. Namath hit the professional football scene like nothing that had come before him. Frail knees and all, Namath had the Jets winning soon after his arrival. But the Jets, formerly the Titans, had begun a complete revamping of the organization two years prior to Namath’s arrival. The man behind all of the change? I’m not talking about Weeb Ewbank, although he certainly contributed. But the leader of the revolution, the man who signed the checks, was new owner, David A. “Sonny” Werblin. This page from the New York Jets’ 1964 Team Yearbook shows the ownership group that pulled the franchise from the penniless hands of Harry Wismer, who founded the Titans in 1959.
Fifty-one years ago this week saw the death of one of the AFL’s most storied teams, and the birth of another. Harry Wismer had been the head man of the New York Titans from the franchise’s inception in 1960 through 1962 when the team was taken from him due, ultimately, to his lack of finances.
Famed talent agent, Sonny Werblin,bought the Titans for $1 million. He changed their name to “Jets,” and after installing Weeb Ewbank as his head coach and Joe Namath at quarterback, had the team playing for a world championship within five seasons.
I have been seeing various Mt. Rushmore-type lists for a handful of NFL teams recently. It seems to be a trendy thing to name the four most important figures or players in a particular team’s history. It got me thinking about who would belong on a Mt. Rushmore for the American Football League. I had initially thought it would be a pretty easy exercise – Namath, Alworth, Blanda and Bell, perhaps? I think the first two are pretty solid, but spots #3 and #4 would probably be contested.
>After purchasing the New York Titans in early 1963, Sonny Werblin changed the team’s name to the Jets, and began spending his money on new, young talent for his team. Most people recall his famous signing of quarterback Joe Namath, but before that historic moment, Werblin used the Jets first round draft pick in 1964 on a 6’2″, 219-lb. running back from Ohio State University named Matt Snell. The signing shocked the NFL’s New York Giants, who had also used their fourth-round pick on Snell. Snell was a powerful runner, who made an immediate impact from the Jets backfield. He set a Jets record with 180 yards against the Houston Oilers, on his way to accumulating 948 rushing yards and five touchdowns in his rookie season. He also caught 56 passes for 393 yards and an additional score. His 1,341 offensive yards earned Snell a spot on the Eastern Division All-Star squad, and AFL Rookie of the Year honors. Matt Snell was a member of the legendary Jets team that upset the favored Baltimore Colts with a 16-7 victory in Super Bowl III. He rushed for 121 yards in that historic game, and scored the Jets only touchdown with a four-yard dash around the left end in the second quarter. Matt Snell played nine seasons with the New York Jets, the last three of which were limited by knee injuries. He retired after the 1972 season with 4,285 career yards and 24 touchdowns on 1,057 carries. He caught 193 passes out of the backfield, for 1,375 yards and seven scores. Early in his retirement, Matt Snell became a member of the group of athletes and actors that starred for some 17 years as the Tastes Great-Less Filling Gang on Miller Lite Beer commercials.