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By Cold, Hard Football Facts contributor Jonathan Comey
Here are five Cold, Hard Football Facts you probably don't know unless you're a Jets diehard:
1. Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh was the Jets' first coach, when they were called the Titans.
Baugh is a longtime Cold, Hard Football Facts favorite, both for his amazing on-field production and for his salty talk. If you've ever seen an NFL Films interview with Baugh – rife with censoring beeps thanks to his hilariously sharp tongue – you know that playing for him as a coach must have been a unique experience. Baugh was a mundane 14-14 in two years with the "Titans" (named to be the AFL version of "Giants"), but it was his advice that led to the addition of an obscure CFL receiver. Don Maynard became Joe Namath's top target and would finish his NFL career with 11,816 yards and 88 touchdowns in 13 years with the Jets. He now resides in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Baugh, by the way, celebrated his 92nd birthday in March and is the oldest living Hall of Famer.
2. Joe Namath didn't miss a game due to injury in his first five seasons.
Broadway Joe ended his career as Glass Joe and played his later years with more metal wrapped around his knee than C-3PO. But he made 74 consecutive starts in his first five-plus seasons. Then, on October 18, 1970, he broke his right wrist and missed the rest of the season. He tore up his knee the next preseason, and would miss a total of 30 games between 1970 and 1973.
3. The Jets have had two coaches quit with one game left in the season.
In 1976, the Jets inked N.C. State coach Lou Holtz to a five-year contract. He didn't even make it 14 games, leaving for a return to the Wolfpack with a 3-10 record and the scorn of Jets fans. Two decades later, Rich Kotite quit after his Jets fell to 1-14, but was talked into staying for the final game of the year – a surprisingly competitive 31-28 loss to Miami.
Holtz, by the way, attempted to inject some college spirit into the pro game and wrote a horrid fight song for the Jets, sung to the tune of the martial anthem, "The Caissons Go Rolling Along." The disastrous song symbolized his pro coaching career.
4. The Jets played their first six games of 1973 on the road.
Ah, the 1970s. When the Jets sucked and baseball was king. If you think the Meadowlands situation is bad for the Jets, it sure as heck beats their Shea Stadium arrangement. The 1973 Mets made the World Series despite an 82-79 record and took the Oakland A's to seven games. This resulted in six straight road trips for the poor Jets, who predictably went 2-4. That 1973 team also had three notable future broadcasters in Namath, Mike Adamle and John Riggins – as well as Jim Nance (the former Patriot, not the ubiquitous TV man). The Jets would play at least some of their games at Shea through the 1983 season.
5. Jim Zorn, Marc Wilson and Billy Joe Tolliver are among the countless no-name QBs with a better passer rating than Namath.
Now, this is somewhat misleading, since Namath played most of his seasons in the Dead Ball Era of the1960s and 70s. Still, his career rating was 65.5, about average for that time span. He threw fewer TDs than INTs (173-220) and completed just 50.1 percent of his passes. In the eight seasons he was healthy, the Jets were a middling 59-52.