|Born||March 17, 1910|
Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York,
|Died||November 21, 1991 81) (aged|
Manhattan, New York,
|Education|| Erasmus Hall High School,|
James Madison High School,
|Occupation||Entertainment & sports executive/owner|
|Known for||New York Jets, Meadowlands Sports Complex|
|Spouse(s)||Leah Ray Hubbard|
|Children||Robert, Thomas D.,|
Hubbard S. (1945–1991)
David Abraham "Sonny" Werblin (March 17, 1910 – November 21, 1991)was a prominent entertainment industry executive and sports impresario who was an owner of the New York Jets and chairman of Madison Square Garden, and who built and managed the Meadowlands Sports Complex.
Werblin was born in Brooklyn, New York. A graduate of Rutgers University, he went to work for Music Corporation of America (MCA) in 1932 and was so successful that in 1951 he was made president of MCA's television division.
At MCA, Werblin made a considerable name at identifying and managing talent. His managed list of major stars were a who's-who in not only music, but also movies and television. During the 1950s and 1960s, Werblin led a production team that developed television shows for all three major networks, an offshoot of his ability to manage the stars that were featured in them. The list of top-rated television shows MCA developed under Werblin, again, is lengthy.
His power as a "star-handler" was such that eventually forces in the entertainment industry combined against him and MCA, resulting in lawsuits in 1962. The company's ability to manage stars would be curtailed greatly under new industry rules after that point. Up to then, he had been known in management circles as "Mr. Show Biz," his power in the industry having been so great.
Werblin left MCA and found a new business vehicle soon after: the American Football League, which he revolutionized. His impact on professional sports is still well-felt today. His MCA connections at NBC (National Broadcasting Company) allowed him to singlehandedly negotiate the AFL's contract there, quickly elevating the league to near-parity with the rival senior NFL, and leading to the development of the Super Bowl as a television event.
The concept of The Sport Star as known today was first largely developed by Werblin, whose first developed " star " was New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath, who became the then-greatest star athlete in America under Werblin's guidance in the mid and late 1960s. It was also Werblin who signed for his Jets, the team he named and colored, football talent scout and coach Wilbur "Weeb" Ewbank. Ewbank quickly developed the Jets into a contender just as he previously had the NFL Baltimore Colts in the 1950s.
In 1938, he married Leah Ray Hubbard (1915–1999) of Norfolk, Virginia. Performing as Leah Ray, she was a well-known vocalist in the Big Band era. Ms. Ray sang with major orchestras such as those of Tommy Dorsey and Phil Harris, and acted in more than a dozen films. Among her film appearances, in 1936 she co-starred with Phil Harris in the Academy Award-nominated short film titled Double or Nothing . While performing with the Phil Harris orchestra she met Sonny Werblin. They married in 1938 and remained together for more than fifty years until his death in 1991.
Werblin died of a heart attack on November 21, 1991, at the age of 81 at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. He had homes in Manhattan, Miami, Florida and Rumson, New Jersey.
In 1963, Sonny Werblin and his partners purchased the American Football League (AFL) Titans of New York from original owner Harry Wismer. Werblin changed the team's name to the Jets, and drafted Matt Snell in the first round, signing him away from the crosstown NFL Giants. His biggest coup came in 1965, when for $427,000 he signed University of Alabama quarterback Joe Namath, who had been drafted by the NFL St. Louis Cardinals. Werblin and the Oakland Raiders' Al Davis resisted the indemnity the NFL demanded, which was $100,000 per year for twenty years. Other AFL owners agreed to the terms, along with stripping the name and logo from the AFL.
Werblin was bought out by Jets management prior to the 1968 season, which concluded with the team winning Super Bowl III over the Baltimore Colts in one of the greatest upsets in sports history. Newark Star-Ledger sports columnists Jerry Izenberg and Sidney Zion would later speculate that, because the Jets fired Werblin, there was a "Curse of Sonny Werblin" on the team. By an unusual coincidence, Werblin and Izenberg were elected to the Sports Hall of Fame of New Jersey in the same year, 1997.[ citation needed ]
Sonny Werblin built the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey which he ran from 1971 to 1977.
When it was announced that the New York Giants would begin playing at the new Giants Stadium in 1976 and a reporter asked Werblin about the New York Giants playing in New Jersey, he explained the geography in the New York City Metro area by saying "If you pave the Hudson River it becomes 13th Avenue." In 1978 Werblin took over as head of Madison Square Garden and its properties, including the New York Rangers and New York Knicks. In 1984, he gave up day-to-day control of Madison Square Garden but remained Chairman of its Board of Directors.
Sonny and Leah Werblin raced Thoroughbred horses under the nom de course , Elberon Farm. Among their racing successes, their colt, Silent Screen, earned 1969 American Champion Two-Year-Old Colt honors and their filly, Process Shot was the 1968 American Co-Champion Two-Year-Old Filly. In addition, Sonny Werblin was a major shareholder and member of the Board of Directors of Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport, New Jersey. Of note here is that the first group of four co-owners / investors in The Gotham Football Club ( New York Jets ) were all horse racing associates. All were silent partners in the Jets, deferring to Werblin's legendary ability to handle, press, media and his developed stars.
Sonny Werblin and his wife established the David and Leah Ray Werblin Foundation which provides financial support for Rutgers University, charitable causes, and cultural activities. Rutgers University built the Sonny Werblin Recreation Center on its Busch Campus, near High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey, across the Raritan River from its main campus in New Brunswick. The center is home to weight-training facilities and the university's main venues for water-sports competition.
The Indianapolis Colts are an American football team based in Indianapolis. The Colts compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's American Football Conference (AFC) South division. Since the 2008 season, the Colts have played their games in Lucas Oil Stadium. Previously, the team had played for over two decades (1984–2007) at the RCA Dome. Since 1987, the Colts have served as the host team for the NFL Scouting Combine.
The New York Jets are a professional American football team based in the New York metropolitan area. The Jets compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's American Football Conference (AFC) East division. The Jets play their home games at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, 5 miles (8.0 km) west of New York City. The team is headquartered in Florham Park, New Jersey. The franchise is legally organized as a limited liability company under the name New York Jets, LLC.
Super Bowl III was the third AFL–NFL Championship Game in professional American football, and the first to officially bear the trademark name "Super Bowl". Played on January 12, 1969, at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida, the game is regarded as one of the greatest upsets in both American football history and in the recorded history of sports. The 18-point underdog American Football League (AFL) champion New York Jets defeated the National Football League (NFL) champion Baltimore Colts by a score of 16–7.
Joseph William Namath is a former American football quarterback who played in the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (NFL) for 13 seasons, primarily with the New York Jets. He played college football at Alabama, where he led the team to a national championship title, and was selected by the Jets first overall in the 1965 AFL Draft. During his five AFL seasons, he was a two-time MVP and twice led the league in passing yards while guiding the Jets to victory in one AFL championship and one Super Bowl. Both victories remain the Jets' only championships. Namath joined the NFL with the Jets in 1970 following the AFL–NFL merger, where he was the league's passing yards and touchdowns leader during the 1972 season. He played in New York for seven more seasons, with his final year spent as a member of the Los Angeles Rams.
Wilbur Charles "Weeb" Ewbank was an American professional football coach. He led the Baltimore Colts to NFL championships in 1958 and 1959 and the New York Jets to victory in Super Bowl III in 1969. He is the only coach to win a championship in both the National Football League (NFL) and American Football League (AFL).
Matthews Snell is a retired professional football player who played for the New York Jets. He was Jets' owner Sonny Werblin's first coup, prior to his 1965 acquisition of Joe Namath. A powerful fullback out of Ohio State University, Snell's 1964 signing jolted the crosstown Giants, who didn't draft Snell until the fourth round, and offered him a fraction of what the Jets gave him as their first-round choice.
Winston Cordell Hill was an American college and professional American football player.
Harry Wismer was an American sports broadcaster and the charter owner of the New York Titans franchise in the American Football League (AFL).
Emerson Boozer is a former running back in the American Football League (AFL) and in the National Football League (NFL). In the last year of separate drafts by the AFL and the NFL, Boozer signed with the AFL's New York Jets, rather than with an NFL team. He played his entire professional career with the Jets. Boozer was a member of the Jets team that defeated the NFL's champion Baltimore Colts, 16–7, in Super Bowl III. Before joining the American Football League, Boozer played college football at the Maryland State College, which is now the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
In each year of its ten-year existence (1960–1969), numerous sports-news services named their choice for the American Football League's best first-year player. The choices by the major services are shown below.
Leon Hess was the founder of the Hess Corporation and the owner of the New York Jets.
The 1968 New York Jets season was the ninth season for the team in the American Football League (AFL). The team had the most successful season in franchise history. Trying to improve upon their 8–5–1 record of 1967, they won the AFL Eastern Division with an 11–3 record. They defeated the defending champion Oakland Raiders in the AFL championship game, and earned the right to play in Super Bowl III against the NFL champion Baltimore Colts. In a stunning upset, marked by fourth-year quarterback Joe Namath's famous "guarantee" of victory, the Jets defeated the heavily favored Colts 16–7. The Jets have yet to return to the Super Bowl and makes them along with the New Orleans Saints as the only teams to have been to just one Super Bowl and win it.
The history of the New York Jets American football team began in 1959 with the founding of the Titans of New York, an original member of the American Football League (AFL); they began actual play the following year. The team had little success in its early years. After playing three seasons at the Polo Grounds, the team changed its name to the New York Jets, and moved into newly built Shea Stadium in 1964. In January 1965, the Jets signed University of Alabama quarterback Joe Namath to a then-record contract. The team showed gradual improvement in the late 1960s, posting its first winning record in 1967 and winning its only American Football League championship in 1968. By winning the title, New York earned the right to play in Super Bowl III against the champions of the National Football League (NFL), the Baltimore Colts. The Jets defeated the Colts in the game; in the aftermath of the upset, the AFL was deemed a worthy partner to the NFL as the two leagues merged.
Jerry Izenberg is a sports journalist with The Newark Star-Ledger in Newark, New Jersey. His career with The Star-Ledger began in 1951 while he was still a student at Rutgers University, Newark, but was interrupted for several years during which he served in the Korean War. Izenberg has covered many memorable sporting events and figures of the late twentieth century, including Sonny Werblin's ownership of the New York Jets, the boxing career of Muhammad Ali, and the Loma Prieta earthquake which interrupted the 1989 World Series.
Sherman Eugene Plunkett was an American football offensive tackle. Over a ten-year career he played in the National Football League (NFL), for the Baltimore Colts, and in the American Football League from 1961–1967, for the San Diego Chargers (1961–62) and the New York Jets (1963–67). He was an American Football League All-Star in 1964 and 1966 and a 1st Team All-Pro All-AFL in 1966.
The National Football League (NFL)'s New York Jets began play in 1960 as the Titans of New York, a charter member of the American Football League (AFL). When the Titans became the Jets in 1963 the team colors changed from navy blue and gold to green and white, which they have remained ever since, although the franchise has used different shades of green and has at times used black as a third/trim color. For most of their history, the Jets had white helmets with green striping and logos, green and white jerseys with opposite-colored sleeves and shoulder stripes, and white pants with two green stripes down each side. The team switched to green helmets and a simpler design in 1978, replacing the football-shaped logo with a modernized wordmark, then in 1990 added black trim and green pants. In 1998 the team reverted to its "classic" look, with an updated version of the prior logo, and replaced the traditional kelly green with a darker hunter green.
The 1970 New York Jets season was the 11th season for the team and the first in the National Football League, following the AFL–NFL merger. It began with the team trying to maintain or improve upon its 10–4 record from 1969 under head coach Weeb Ewbank. The Jets finished with a record of 4–10. One of the highlights of the season was the Jets' first game when they appeared on the first ever Monday Night Football game vs. the Cleveland Browns. The Jets lost the game 31–21. In the fifth game of the season, quarterback Joe Namath was lost for the season when he broke his wrist vs. the Baltimore Colts in Shea Stadium, the first meeting between the teams since Namath guaranteed victory in Super Bowl III. Namath's injury occurred when he hit his hand on the helmet of Colts defensive tackle Fred Miller. With Namath on the sidelines, the Jets were forced to play untested Al Woodall, who guided New York to upsets of NFC powerhouses Los Angeles and Minnesota, but only one other victory, over the lowly Boston Patriots.
The 1968 Baltimore Colts season was the 16th season for the team in the National Football League. Led by sixth-year head coach Don Shula, they finished the regular season with a record of 13 wins and 1 loss, and won the Western Conference's Coastal division.
Leah Ray Hubbard Werblin was an American singer and actress born in Norfolk, Virginia who performed in the Big Band era and who sang and acted in more than a dozen motion pictures.
The Heidi Game or Heidi Bowl is the name given to a 1968 American Football League (AFL) game between the Oakland Raiders and the visiting New York Jets. The contest, held on November 17, 1968, was notable for its exciting finish, in which Oakland scored two touchdowns in the final minute to win the game 43–32. However, a decision by the game's television broadcaster NBC to break away from its coverage on the East Coast to broadcast the television film Heidi resulted in many viewers missing the Raiders' comeback.