Postcard from Titans' 1960 Summer Camp


In celebration of Titans Throwback Day on Sunday vs. the Eagles, this is the second of a five-part series on the beginning of the franchise we now know as the New York Jets:


From The New York Times

DURHAM, N.H., July 9 [1960] — Twenty-six somber men arrived here from New York tonight on a bus named Desire. It was an odd assortment — some crew-cut, some shaggy-headed, some sloppy fat, some hard as anthracite. But each had the same goal, elusive as it may be: professional football glory.

These were 26 of the 103 men who have been invited to the training camp of the New York Titans, one of the eight teams in the new American Football League. Some of the men who took the seven-and-one-half-hour bus trip to the University of New Hampshire, where practice opens tomorrow afternoon, have been out of college for four or five years or longer. Some never finished college. Some who have had tryouts with National Football League teams were dropped before the coach even knew their last names. One or two, who have had experience in the N.F.L. but were overshadowed there, hope to become stars overnight in the American Football League. And others, who have toiled on the sand lots of season after rocky season, think they will become another Johnny Unitas.

This could be a great opportunity for these dreamers, or the end of a fruitless search. They know that if they don't make it now, it's back to the sand lots and oblivion. They also know that by Sept. 11, when the Titans open their season, only thirty-three of the 103 players will have survived the exhaustion and pain of two-a-day practice sessions and the elbows and pressure of the four-game exhibition tour.

As in other pro football camps, there will be those who will not survive one day. They will steal out of camp late at night and hitch a ride home rather than ask for their fare, because they couldn't take it. And the dream will have ended.

Some Boys May Cry

"It's better this way," say Sammy Baugh, the head coach, who was sitting in the front seat of the bus. "Some of these boys will be eating dirt from the first day, but they won't quit. Then you have to tell them, and some go away and cry."

Only three or four of the players making the trip knew each other when they met at the Manhattan Hotel at 10:00 o'clock this morning. The lobby looked like a reception center at Fort Dix. Those who were alone with their thoughts — the big and hard, the big and fat, and the tall and skinny — rested a foot on a cheap piece of luggage or held overnight and duffle bags in their hands.

Sometimes, when they thought nobody was looking, they stared at another player five or ten feet away as if to say, "Maybe he's the guy I've gotta beat out. He looks tough. I wonder if he's as worried as me."

"That's how it is at the beginning," said Sid Youngelman, a 260-pound tackle with five years experience in the N.F.L. "They're all suspicious and nervous and maybe even scared of the next guy until that first scrimmage. Everything's okay after they knock the daylights out of each other."

At 10:10 Baugh, a former great Washington Redskins quarterback, breezed into the lobby. He went over to the players, most of whom he never had met, extended his had and said, "I'm Sambo; I'm Sambo." The players snapped to attention as if they were being addressed by their C.O.

Worhman Is Confident

Bill Worhman, a 27-year-old halfback from the University of South Carolina and Bloomingdale, N.J., remained in a corner with his wife Delores and their two children. He is 6 feet, 2 inches and 195 pounds. He had a short trial with the Cleveland Browns in 1955 and was head coach at Dickinson High School in New Jersey last year. He quit his job because he said he was sure he would make the team.

"I can always get a coaching job," the blond athlete said. "But I can't always get a shot at something like this. I can't get football out of my system. I have to find out definitely if I have it. I think I do."

The players boarded the bus. "Scott," Mrs. Worhman said to her son, "hold Valerie's hand. Daddy's going away. Wave to him."

Worhman was sitting on the opposite side of the bus and he didn't see them.

The players found seats, but few talked to the man beside them. Two who found something to talk about were Bob Mischak, a 242-pound guard who played for West Point and the New York Giants, and Mike Friedberg, a 250-pound tackle from Philadelphia.

"I feel I can make this outfit," Friedberg said. "I've been around."

Mischak said, "I enjoyed my stay with the Giants, but money's a little better here, and the conditions are, too."

Youngelman, Mischak and Friedberg were among the most impressive looking specimens, but there were two or three players aboard who looked like they couldn't qualify for Brooklyn Tech's J.V.

Wednesday: The Titans Timeline

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