Fans might not remember Jack Klotz, but the 77-year-old former New York Titan and New York Jet has many memories of his time as a proud member of the American Football League franchise. The starting left tackle for the Titans from 1960-62 and the Jets in '63, Klotz made the All-AFL team and was a crucial member of those very first years of the organization.
On Saturday night, the Chester, Pa., native, who has been working to rehabilitate recovering drug addicts for over 20 years, will be inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in Danville, Pa.
"I'm really flattered and honored by it," Klotz told newyorkjets.com recently. "It's really a great honor. I'm very excited and humbled. It's something that you dream about, to be able to play, and to have it fulfilled is a blessing and a gift."
Football was a very different game in the early Sixties, especially in the AFL where 15 to 20 new players were brought in each day at training camp to try out for the squad. The resources were limited, and Klotz told a harrowing story about how fellow lineman Howard Glenn died after a game in Houston in 1960. Back then, teams didn't travel with their medical staffs. Glenn collapsed in the Jeppesen Stadium locker room and died at a Houston hospital.
Klotz took particular pride in his ability to handle four-time AFL All-Star defensive end Larry "Ike" Eisenhauer, who played for the Boston Patriots. He recalled a particular game when he was hurt but was still able to protect Oilers quarterback George Blanda's blind side from Ike. Remembering that game, he contrasted it with the current level of skill in the NFL, noting that there are many differences between pro football today and how it was in its developmental era.
"There's more speed." Klotz said. "Believe it or not, I was the only guy on the team that lifted weights. We had no weightroom, we had no weight training. I lifted very heavy in the offseason at home. They didn't do things like that. The mentality was that weightlifting would bind you up and you wouldn't have flexibility. That couldn't be further from the truth."
In today's AFC East, the New York Jets and New England Patriots have a fierce competition that extends from the coaching staff down to the players as a microcosm of New York vs. Boston. Even when the teams were the New York Titans and the Boston Patriots, there were intense battles, although Klotz recalled that they were slightly less hostile than they currently are.
"We had a really good rivalry with the Patriots," Klotz said. "There wasn't a whole lot of hatred and animosity. They would come up and talk to you after the game. It was mutual respect and that's what it should have been."