Coached In Memorable Games
Ewbank had the distinction of coaching in history-making games. He coached the first sudden death overtime victory title game, in 1958, as coach of the Colts. When the game ended in a 17-17 tie at the end of regulation, no one knew what to do, but they eventually figured it out, setting a precedent for the league.
He also coached in the "Heidi Bowl." On an NBC televised game, with sixty-five seconds remaining, Ewbank's Jets kicked a field goal to take a 32-29 lead over the Raiders in Oakland. At that point, it was 7 p.m. EST, and NBC cut off its coverage of the game with fifty seconds remaining (except on the West Coast) to begin the two-hour children's movie "Heidi." Jets fans were livid, especially when they learned that the Raiders came back to score two touchdowns in nine seconds to win 43-32.
Ewbank was with the Cleveland Browns in their 1950 NFL debut against the Philadelphia Eagles. And then, in what was probably his sweetest victory, coached the Jets, with Joe Namath at the helm, to an upset in Super Bowl III over his former team, the Baltimore Colts. Ewbank was also on the sidelines in the 1970 debut of Monday Night Football, picking up a win against Cleveland.
Though he won a championship with Unitas, Ewbank was fired after the 1962 season, to be replaced by thirty-three-year-old coach Don Shula. When he went to the New York Jets as head coach and general manager in 1963, he needed just five seasons to take Jets to the Super Bowl. Jets owner Sonny Werblin had signed Joe Namath to a $400,000 contract-the richest in team sports at the time. Namath proved to be the catalyst the team needed.