Gorgeous illustrated program from the early years of the American Football League and the dying days of Harry Wismer’s sad sack New York Titans franchise. By November of 1962, Wismer, a former football broadcaster who was among the poorest owners in the fledgling league, was out of money. His personal losses over the AFL’s three years of operation were approaching $2 million.
Out on the turf of the dilapidated Polo Grounds, the Titans faced the Dallas Texans, who were on their way to a Western Division crown and would become the AFL’s 1962 league champions. The Texans offense was paced by future Hall-of Famer Len Dawson at quarterback and perennial All-Pro tailback Abner Haynes.
The Texans routed the Titas 52-31, which is a remarkable score considering Dawson attempted just 12 passes on the day and completed only five of them. But three were for touchdowns, including a 75-yard connection with Abner Haynes to erase New York’s only lead early in the first quarter. Haynes was the star of the day, rushing for 107 yards and two further scores. Curtis McClinton (102 yards and a score) also went over the century mark for the visitors.
Two weeks earlier, Wismer began to bounce player paychecks. This November 11th tilt against Dallas marked the second week in a row that the AFL league office had to cover the Titans’ payroll with assessments pulled from the league’s stronger franchises. AFL Commissioner Joe Foss was in town to oversee the payroll distribution and check on Wismer’s progress in selling the team, which was expected to happen before Thanksgiving. In actuality, the AFL had to prop up the Titans for the entire final month of the season, as the sale drifted on into the New Year.
The Titans played their final game a month later on December 8, 1962, a 20-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills at the Polo Grounds. The Titans were finally sold in February 1963 to a syndicate led by Sonny Werblin, who re-branded and revitalized the club as the New York Jets in 1963.