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Just over 50 years ago, halfway through the history of the NFL, the New York Jets completed one of the most unexpected championship seasons in the history of the sport.
A brash quarterback named Joe Namath helped engineer a Super Bowl victory over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts.
That now-famous journey by Broadway Joe and the boys through the AFL that ended in triumph in Miami took a lesser-known detour for the second week of the schedule.
Yes, the Jets once landed in Birmingham, Alabama.
Their opponent on Sept. 22, 1968, was the Boston Patriots, who moved their home opener more than 1,000 miles south of Fenway Park even though the Red Sox were playing their game that day on the road. The legend has it that AFL leaders steered the Jets-Patriots game there to test Alabama’s taste for a professional team in the heart of college football country, eyeing a potential new home for the fledgling franchise. Legion Field, built in 1927 and often referred to as “The Old Gray Lady,” has been best known for all those Iron Bowl games over the years between Alabama and Auburn. But for this weekend the big draw was on a Sunday afternoon, not a Saturday.
The AFL-NFL merger was already in the works, eventually completed after the 1969 season, and every team was facing a requirement of a stadium with at least 50,000 seats. Fenway Park wasn’t nearly big enough, so the Patriots were in a tenuous
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