Remembering the Titans ... of New York


I sit here pounding my computer, wearing my blue and gold hat that reads "The Titans of New York" on the front and sports a tiny onrushing football player in the shape of a T on the back, and my thoughts drift back to the early Sixties, back nearly to my beginnings, back to the beginnings of the American Football League.

And the New York Titans.

Slingin' Sammy Baugh was the coach. Harry Wismer was the owner. And some of the players' names still echo down the last half-century.

Don Maynard, Art Powell and Bake Turner formed a formidable wideout corps. Al Dorow threw to them for two years. Bill Mathis was at RB, Dick Christy on punt returns. Patrolling the middle of the defense: Larry Grantham. Punting them out of trouble: Curley Johnson.

There were the antics and the economics — the team that Wismer bankrupted was run by the AFL the last two months of '62. And there were the games, with scores that read like Ivy League basketball results: 50-43, 41-35, 52-31 and that memorable 46-45 comeback at Denver on Thanksgiving Day 1962.

Now why, with the Jets about to play the Giants in the third game of their 2007 preseason schedule Saturday night, would I be dwelling on a team that played its last game more than a year before the Beatles made it to America? It's because the spirit of the Titans will be very much alive this season.

If you're a season ticket holder, you may have already noticed in your ticket literature that on Sunday, Oct. 14, the Jets will be in their navy-and-gold throwback uniforms to take on the only team that will be wearing green in the Meadowlands that day, the Philadelphia Eagles. It's being called "Titans Throwback Day" and is being presented by Jets TicketExchange by Ticketmaster.

"I just got to look at the uniforms and some of the different things associated with them," head coach Eric Mangini said at his news conference today. "That'll be a good event. I think it's just a great opportunity for us to recognize a part of the long, proud history of Jets and Titans football."

"I like the uniforms," said quarterback Chad Pennington, who has also seen the Titans prototypes. "I think they look really good and the colors look really good. It'll be different. When did they stop wearing them, 1962? That's a long time ago. Bringing back a uniform like that, I think that'll shock a lot of people because you're used to seeing the Jets in green and white for 45 years now."

And the club has started to market four varieties of headwear (including the hat on my head) plus Titans jerseys, apparel and souvenirs, which can be found exclusively here at and at the Jets Shop Tent at training camp.

"We're continuing to get the word out, planting the seed," said Chris Pierce, the Jets' senior director of merchandising. "The response has been very exciting. Fans who don't know who the New York Titans are love the logo and love the look of the product."

Besides the merchandise that's becoming available, Oct. 14 will turn into not just the Jets in Titans clothing but a Titans celebration, with Maynard, Mathis, Grantham and Johnson expected to be in attendance.

The Jets probably can't derive any karma from their predecessors. After all, the Titans went 7-7, 7-7 and 5-9 before dying. But perhaps there's magic in the fact that from the Blue & Gold ashes rose the Green & White. As Pierce, who grew up in South Ozone Park, N.Y., said, "The Titans are the team that begat the team that went on to shock the world in Super Bowl III."

"What we'll have to do," Pennington reminded, "is not worry about the uniforms and concentrate on trying to win the game."

Some approaches never change. And this season, the Titans will live again.

For more on the festivities being planned for Titans Throwback Day, see Marissa Shorenstein's story.

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