The New York Jets are a National Football League team that plays its home games in East Rutherford, New Jersey, but is based on Long Island.
- Founded: 1960 (charter American Football League (AFL) member; joined the NFL in the 1970 merger)
- Formerly known as: New York Titans, 1960-1962. Sonny Werblin changed the name to "Jets" when he bought the team in 1963.
- Home stadiums: First the Polo Grounds, then Shea Stadium, then Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The NYSCC project to be built in NYC is expected to be the home of the Jets by 2010.
- Uniform colors: Green and White
- Helmet design: A green oval, with the letters "NY" superimposed, and superimposed over that, the word "JETS" and a football
- League championships won: American Football League 1968
- World Championships won: Super Bowl III (1968 post-season)
NY Titans logo (1960-1962)
NY Jets AFL logo
The Jets began as the Titans of New York, a charter member of the American Football League in 1960. When a group including Sonny Werblin bought the team from Harry Wismer in 1963, the team was re-named the New York Jets.
In 1965, the Jets signed Alabama quarterback Joe Namath after the NFL passed on Namath in the amateur draft. Under Namath's guidance, the Jets rose to the top of the AFL and in 1969 represented that league in the Super Bowl. They were pitted against the "best team in the NFL", the Baltimore Colts. At the time, the AFL was considered to be inferior to the NFL and most people considered the Jets to be heavy underdogs. In the week leading up to Super Bowl III, Namath famously "guaranteed" a victory and the Jets went on to complete one of the greatest upsets in football history by defeating the Colts 16-7. This victory showed that the AFL was capable of competing with the NFL and eventually led to the merging of the two leagues in 1970. The Jets' first game in the NFL was also the first-ever Monday Night Football game, a 31-21 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
The Jets did not live up to expectations after joining the NFL. In their first season after the merger, Joe Namath broke his wrist in October and had to sit out the rest of the year, with the Jets finishing 4-10. Another injury to Namath before the 1971 season submarined the Jets that year as well, with Bob Davis and Al Woodall leading the team to a 6-8 record. Namath was back for the 1972 season, leading the team to a respectable 7-7. After another disappointing season in 1973, coach Weeb Ewbank retired. The Jets went through three coaches for the next three seasons. After a late-season surge to finish 7-7 in 1974, the Jets finished 3-11 each year until 1977. Namath left the Jets after the 1976 season, playing one year with the Los Angeles Rams before retiring. Walt Michaels was hired for the 1977 season and stayed with the team for six years.
The Jets were rejeuvenated for the 1978 season, with quarterback Matt Robinson throwing for 2000 yards and the team finishing 8-8. Richard Todd took over under center for the 1979 season and did even better, but the Jets again finished 8-8. Todd imploded with a 30-interception season in 1980 and the team went down with him, finishing 4-12 and last in the AFC East. One of the Jets' bright spots in the late 1970s was their defensive line. Mark Gastineau and Joe Klecko anchored the "New York Sack Exchange" and combined for more than 40 sacks by 1981.
That 1981 season was the Jets' first winning season since joining the NFL. Finishing 10-5-1, the team made the playoffs for the first time since 1969 on Richard Todd's 3231 yards passing and 25 touchdowns, most of them to Wesley Walker and Jerome Barkum. A late comeback in their first playoff game, against the Buffalo Bills, was stopped when Todd threw an interception deep in Bills territory in the final minute, and the Jets went home empty-handed.
In a strike-shortened 1982 season, the Jets finished 6-3 and upset the defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals in the first round of the playoffs, followed by another upset of the Oakland Raiders in the second round. In the AFC Championship against the rival Miami Dolphins, Richard Todd's reputation of throwing costly interceptions came back to haunt him: he threw three. The Dolphins won 14-0, and Walt Michaels took a job in the short-lived United States Football League.
Joe Walton was the new coach for the 1983 season, and he led the team to a 7-9 season. In 1984 they moved from Shea Stadium (where they were second fiddle to baseball's New York Mets) to the Meadowlands of East Rutherford, New Jersey (where they played second fiddle to the New York Giants). In addition to a new stadium, Ken O'Brien took over at quarterback; but the team stumbled to the same 7-9 record.
In 1985 O'Brien threw 25 touchdowns (seven to Mickey Shuler and five to Wesley Walker) and eight interceptions, and four different rushers combined for 18 touchdowns on the ground. The Jets made the playoffs with an 11-5 record, but were stunned in the first round by the cinderella New England Patriots.
The Jets looked to improve on that mark for the 1986 season, with the team winning 9 straight games to start the season at 10-1. Wesley Walker caught 12 touchdowns, with second-year player Al Toon catching 8. The team slid through December, losing five straight to finish 10-6. Pat Ryan was named the starting quarterback for the playoffs, and they defeated thew Kansas City Chiefs handily in the first round. A late comeback by the Cleveland Browns in their divisional playoff matchup led to a double-overtime winning field goal by Mark Moseley that broke Jets' fans hearts.
In 1987 the Jets again stumbled through December, but this time they missed the playoffs with a 6-9 record. Gastineau shocked the team by retiring midway through the 1988 season, one in which the Jets finished 8-7-1, short of a playoff spot in the competitive AFC wild-card race. The team went into a tailspin in 1989, finishing 4-12 and causing the firing of coach Joe Walton.
Bruce Coslet, hired to lead the team for the 1990 season, let most of their stars from the 1980s go. Ken O'Brien was on the downside of his career, and the team finished 6-10. In 1991, with Brad Baxter having a career-high 11 touchdown receptions, the Jets improved to 8-8. They won a wild-card playoff spot by beating the Miami Dolphins on the final weekend of the season. In their opening-round playoff game, the Jets fell 17-10 to the Houston Oilers.
Browning Nagle took over O'Brien's starting QB job for the 1992 season, but the Jets disappointed fans again with a 4-12 finish. Tragedy struck the Jets in November when defensive lineman Dennis Byrd was paralyzed in a game against Kansas City. Remarkably, he walked again within two years.
With the Nagle experiment over, longtime Cincinnati Bengals QB Boomer Esiason joined the team for the 1993 season. A mid-season winning streak gave Jets fans hope, but they missed the playoffs at 8-8 with a loss to Houston in their final game. Coslet was fired as head coach and replaced by Pete Carroll.
Optimism was high for the 1994 season when the Jets started the season 6-5 and played Miami in late November. But in a game against the Miami Dolphins, quarterback Dan Marino fooled the Jets into thinking he would spike the ball to stop the clock, then threw the winning touchdown to Mark Ingram for an inprobable victory. The play came to be known as "The Fake Spike," and the Jets never recovered, finishing the season 6-10, last place in the AFC East. Carroll was fired after only one season, but his replacement Rich Kotite proved to be even worse.
During Kotite's two-year term in New York, the Jets won only four games: a 3-13 record in 1995, and 1-15 in 1996, in both cases the worst in the NFL. The draft picks the Jets received set the stage for a quick turnaround in the late 1990s. Wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson was picked #1 overall, and New England Patriots coach Bill Parcells abandoned that team to take the Jets' coaching job for the 1997 season.
The results were immediate. Neil O'Donnell, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers, threw for 17 touchdowns in his only full year as the Jets' starting quarterback, and Adrian Murrell ran for 1000 yards. The Jets finished 9-7, but still out of the playoffs.
Parcells grabbed Patriots running back Curtis Martin and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Vinny Testaverde in time for the 1998 season, which turned out to be the most successful for the team since the 1960s. Both paid immediate dividends: Testaverde threw 29 touchdowns, Martin ran for 1287 yards and 8 touchdowns, while both Keyshawn Johnson and Wayne Chrebet had 1000 yards receiving. The Jets won 10 of their last 11 games and finished the season 12-4. Earning a first-round bye, the Jets survived a scare from the Jacksonville Jaguars in their divisional playoff game, winning 34-24. New York looked bound for the Super Bowl with a 10-0 lead in the third quarter of the AFC Championship against the Denver Broncos. Testaverde threw two late interceptions and Denver running back Terrell Davis burned the Jets for 167 yards and a touchdown, and the Broncos won 23-10.
The Jets' hopes for the 1999 season were dashed in their first game against the New England Patriots, when Testaverde injured his Achilles tendon. The Jets collapsed to an 8-8 record. Parcells resigned his coaching position in early 2000 after disagreements with owner Woody Johnson. His handpicked successor, Bill Belichick also resigned after one day on the job and ended up taking the job with the Patriots.
The team finally settled Al Groh to lead the team for the 2000 season. The Jets won 6 of their first 7 games, capped by the biggest comeback in Monday Night Football history against the Dolphins. Down 30-7 entering the fourth quarter, the Jets exploded for 30 points in the last 15 minutes, and John Hall kicked the winning field goal in overtime. It was the highlight of the season, but they only won 3 of their last 9 to finish at 9-7 and out of the playoffs. Groh resigned after his first season to coach the University of Virginia team.
Under new coach Herman Edwards, the Jets were streaky through the 2001 season in a highly competitive AFC East. The team managed to salvage a wild-card with a 53-yard game-winning field goal against the Oakland Raiders in the final minute, forcing a rematch with the Raiders in the opening playoff game. The results were different in the playoffs, with the Raiders cruising to a 38-24 win.
The AFC East proved to be even more competitive in 2002, with all four teams in the race well into December. Testaverde was benched early in the season with the team at 1-4, and replaced with Chad Pennington, who proved to be the spark the Jets needed. Pennington threw 22 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions, and a win over the Green Bay Packers in the final week gave them the AFC East title at 9-7. The Jets cruised through the opening playoff game with a 41-0 blowout of the Indianapolis Colts, but collapsed in the second half against the eventual AFC champion Raiders in the divisional playoff.
The Jets lost several players to free agency in the off-season (mostly to the Washington Redskins), and a pre-season injury to Pennington submarined the Jets in 2003. Testaverde, thought by many on the downside of his career, was forced to take over. Pennington came back midway through the season, but it was too late. The Jets finished 6-10.
Pennington was healthy again for the start of the 2004 season, and the Jets started the season 5-0 before losing 2 of their next 3. Despite struggling down the stretch, the Jets finished with a 10-6 record and earned a wild card berth. Herm Edwards' team faced the AFC West champion San Diego Chargers in the opening round, a team that featured Pro Bowlers Drew Brees, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Antonio Gates. In a classic bout which was a rematch of week 2 the Jets prevailed with a Doug Brien field goal in overtime. The game sent the Jets to the divisional round against the 15-1 Pittsburgh Steelers.
In the divisional round, the Jets hung tight with the heavily favored Steelers. While the offense struggled, producing only a field goal, a punt return and interception return kept the Jets in the game. With the score tied at 17-17 late in the fourth quarter, kicker Doug Brien lined up for a 47 yard field goal attempt that would have put the Jets up. It fell just short.
Brien was saved by an interception of Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the next play, and soon lined up for a 43 yard attempt. This one sailed wide left, forcing the game into overtime. The Jets lost on a 33 yard field goal by Pittsburgh kicker Jeff Reed, as they fell just short yet again.
Players of note
Pro Football Hall of Famers:
Not to be forgotten:
- New York Jets official website (http://www.newyorkjets.com/)
- New York Jets Tickets (http://www.ticketsinaflash.com/football_tickets/New_York_Jets.html)