This Sunday the New York Jets have a chance to return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1969. On the other hand, they can also add another loss to a series of disappointments in their long history.
Here are some highlights and lowlights from the Jets 50-year history as adapted from the recently published The Greater New York Sports Chronology, by Jeffrey Kroessler:
1960: Wearing blue-and-gold uniforms, the Titans [as the Jets were originally called] took the field on a rainy September 11 before 10,200 at the Polo Grounds and beat the Buffalo Bills, 27-3.
1963: On March 28, Sonny Werblin [and others] … bought the Titans for $1 million. On April 15, they renamed the team the Jets and hired Weeb Ewbank as general manager and head coach. The new green-and-white uniforms matched the colors of Hess’s gas stations.
1966: Jets quarterback Joe Namath passed for 2,200 yards and 18 touchdowns and was voted the AFL’s Rookie of the Year.
1968: On November 17, the Jets were leading the Raiders 32-29, with 1 minute, 5 seconds remaining when NBC-TV cut away from the game to broadcast Heidi, as scheduled at 7:00 pm. Oakland proceeded to score 14 points for a 43-32 victory, but none of the viewing public saw the finish. Fans’ complaints flooded the NBC switchboard until the circuits blew.
1969: On January 12, after brashly guaranteeing victory—”We’re going to win Sunday. I guarantee it” — quarterback Joe Namath led the underdog Jets to a 16-7 win over the powerhouse Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.
1970: In the inaugural game on Monday Night Football, broadcast by ABC on September 21, Joe Namath and the Jets lost to the Browns, 31-21 in Cleveland.
1976: On December 9, with the Jets at 3-10 and one game remaining, first-year coach Lou Holtz resigned. Mike Holovak took over for the last game on December 12, a 42-3 shellacking by the Cincinnati Bengals. That was Joe Namath’s last game in a Jets uniform.
1979: The Patriots shellacked the Jets, 56-3, on September 9, the worst loss in franchise history.
1981: Behind running back Freeman McNeil and the aggressive defense of the “New York Sack Exchange” … the Jets finished with a record of 10-5-1, their first winning season since the merger of the AFL and the NFL. [In the playoffs] the Jets fell to the Buffalo Bills, 31-27, before 57,050 at Shea Stadium. The Bills intercepted quarterback Richard Todd’s pass on the 1-yard line with 10 seconds remaining.
1983: [L]ost to the Miami Dolphins, 14-0, in the American Football Conference title game in a rain-soaked Orange Bowl on January 23.
1995: Rich Kotite replaced Peter Carroll as Jets coach on January 5.
1996: On December 20, two days before the final game of a dismal season, Rich Kotite resigned as head coach of the Jets. The team finished with records 3-13 in 1995 and 1-15 in 1996.
1999: [B]ehind thirty-five-year-old quarterback Vinnie Testaverde … In the AFC championship … [the Jets] built a 10-0 lead over the defending champion Broncos, but Denver prevailed 23-10.
2009: On January 21, Rex Ryan was hired as head coach (the son of Buddy Ryan, an assistant coach on the 1969 Super Bowl champions)….