Tuesday, August 16, 2011

NY Titans #55 - Part 5

Robert "Bob" Marques #55 joined the newly created New York Titans and apparently played linebacker.  There isn't much to go on in terms of the stories of his career. He is mentioned, however, in The Coffin Corner, an ongoing history of professional football. This issue from 1999 includes "Fantastic Finishes: Three Weeks with the New York Titans." Here Bob Marques shows up in a mention of the Boston Patriots game against the Titans of New York at the Polo Grounds, 1960. Early in the game, the Titans lead, 17-7. William Ryczek writes:

Titan middle linebacker Bob Marques was enjoying himself tremendously at this point. A graduate of Boston University, Marques was well-acquainted with Boston assistant coach Mike Holovak, the former Boston College star and coach, and Alan Miller, the Patriot fullback who had also played at BC. Marques shouted a number of uncharitable remarks across the field to Holovak as the Titans built their sizable lead and was quite vocal about the poor performance of the Patriots. During one Boston drive, on fourth down and one, Marques blitzed and tackled Miller in the backfield. He laid on top of him after the whistle, holding Miller down and forcing the cursing fullback to wrestle himself free.

Marques had gone to Boston College while Holovak had coached at BU. Why not razz him? We can imagine history repeating itself, can't we? Shaun Ellis getting a hold of Shonn Greene and having a few words for Rex Ryan? I remember going to the old Spectrum in Philadelphia during an ill-fated bachelor party many years ago when the Celtics were in town. Eric Williams was playing for the Celtics at the time and was going up and down the court against the hapless Sixers. We had courtside seats, and when one of the guys in the party found out that Williams went to my alma mater, he insisted that I come up with something with which could heckle him. I told him which dorm Williams lived in at my school, so he started yelling, "Hey Williams, go back to Stephens' Hall!" It worked, sort of. Williams stopped in the middle of a fast break and bent over, laughing. The Sixers still lost.

If we had only known how Eric Williams would someday aspire to a career as a porn film director and recruit his wife's friends for nude scenes - and would throw a drink in his wife's face on Basketball Wives - well, just imagine what we could have said to him at courtside. By the way, Bob Marques' heckling went for naught. The Patriots ended up beating the Titans 28-24 at the Polo Grounds in 1960. It was the first meeting between the two franchises.
Pasquale Lamberti #55 played for the Titans in 1961, but he was known as "Pat." Though no real bits of information seem available, Lamberti has the following write up on yet another site where they also care about who played in what number and where - "Denver Broncos Greats By the Numbers" at Mile High Report. According to them, Pat...

Was drafted 146th overall in the 1959 draft by the Chicago Cardinals. Pat never played for them, instead choosing to wait two years so he could jump into the fledgling AFL in 1961, where he played twelve games for two teams without starting a game. In his seven games with Denver he intercepted one pass and ran five yards with it.

His seven games with the Broncos were preceded by five games with the Titans. After that, Pat Lamberti is nowhere to be found. He clearly played alongside Larry Grantham at linebacker. He was from Woodbridge, NJ, and he played football for the Richmond Spiders in college. And he died on December 19, 2007.
With or without football, I'm usually in an autumn Sunday malaise that doesn't start wearing off until later in the week, roughly Thursday night. But last autumn I was at least guaranteed a TV lineup that distracted my Sunday ennui even before it had a chance to settle in. The 1:00 pm game was very likely the Jets game, or at least an Eagles game in Philadelphia, which was typically operatic. (No team has bigger expectations this year than the Eagles, so no team will disappoint in quite the Wagnerian way that the Eagles will in 2011, and you will be able to thank Andy Reid for it.) Then comes the hysterical buildup to Hockey Night in Canada on NBC, with a very, very awkward pregame program, followed by the Sunday night game itself.

Then, I would switch over to AMC later in the evening, and there was the brilliant but canceled Rubicon, which I agree was convoluted, but then so are most good things. And then I would be able to end the night with Mad Men, which has become so popular now that its mere reference in a blog is as obnoxious as mentioning Stephens Hall to Eric Williams. But I did back then, so I will now right now. So far, Mad Men has covered the years 1960-65. My mother worked in Manhattan at the time the show takes place, and like Peggy Olsen, she was an impressionable, smart, well-meaning, astute, conscientious, hard-working Irish-Catholic young woman surrounded by barely functioning alcoholic executives who believed most of the time that they were geniuses. Granted, Peggy's no angel, but my mother worked as a secretary for the same firm for 13 years, and she knew how to handle people.

But if you're really interested in the history of the advertising agencies of the 60's, apart from the Lucky Strikes and the Rob Roys, then consider the New York Titans center and linebacker Alex Kroll #55.

Alex Kroll's 1963 card (he did not 
play for the Jets)
According to Jimmy Wales' free site, Kroll was accepted to Yale in 1955 but was thrown out in his first year. "He played on Yale’s varsity football team," it says "but a physical argument with a young associate professor got Kroll expelled during his sophomore year."

He punched a young professor? Now I was intrigued by Alex Kroll. He then went into the Military Police. My Uncle Mike was an MP in the early 50's, and I have never quite understood how he made it in there considering that the average height for an MP was roughly Kroll's, at six foot-plus; in order to put soldiers in the clink you needed a height and weight advantage. My Uncle Mike is only about 5'7", and he believes he was made one because Michael Patrick Colahan signed his name "M.P. Colahan," which I'm not going to argue over one way or the other. After the army stint, Alex Kroll went to Rutgers and became an All-American at center.

He played in 1962 for the New York Titans, and rather than work at Sears in the off-season, he became a trainee at Young and Rubicam, the famed advertising agency in New York. The company was responsible for developing a variety of campaigns that helped shift the industry into a contemporary aesthetic. Today, their clients are Land Rover, Gap, VH1, the Red Cross. In the 60's, they were the first to do TV advertisements in color.

A BBC program from 1967 shows Young and Rubicam creative director Steve Frankfurt as the focus of a documentary about the typical United States ad man, about how he balances work, creativity, change, family and so on. It's a vanity project, very much like the one the good people at Sterling (Cooper?) Draper Pryce try to get Don Draper to do, though he refuses at first because he's not actually Don Draper. He's Dick Whitman. While Steve Frankfurt would be out of Y&R by 1970, he would also create posters for some of the most memorable films of the next decades. His poster for Rosemary's Baby proclaimed, "Pray for Rosemary's Baby" when really people should have prayed for Rosemary, but then that was the point. And yes, Frankfurt later came up with "In Space, No Can One Hear You Scream," which haunts people who market movies to this day.

But when Frankfurt was let go of Young and Rubicam he was replaced as creative director by Alex Kroll, former Titan, former trainee turned advertising superstar, and apparently Kroll lead the company in new and profitable directions, eventually becoming CEO in 1985 and then stepping down in 1994. Here's his somewhat cloudy Horatio Alger tribute, complete with a cheesy medal around his neck. To his credit, he apparently tried to lead an exploratory committee to help Bill Bradley run for President in 2000. 

If you are as intrigued as I am by the tough rooms filled with smoke and spirits that execs encountered at ad agencies in the 1960's, take a look at the last part of the BBC segment on Steve Frankfurt below and you'll see Frankfurt leading a discussion in Creative about the agency's plan to get Spalding to sell golf clubs to women. As one of the two women in the room point out (there's only one at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, mind you) most middle class women had the luxury of playing golf all day, whereas men could only play on weekends (in 1967, at least). Women needed golf clubs, too.

But the most vocal proponent in the tough room for the idea is Alex Kroll, the then up and coming man at Y&R. Compare the football card above with the assertive man with glasses who is sitting down in the video below, and tell me if they don't match.

"Women," he says in the video, "comprise 20% of the market, and the market's growing as fast as you want it to." Then the camera focuses on Kroll, so much so that you wonder if it's been staged. "Nobody's ever done any advertising to this particular segment of market; as a matter of fact, it's the fastest growing part of the whole market. And there's like seven million golfers. A million two hundred thousand of them...," he hesitates for a moment, almost catching himself, and reverts back to locker room talk, "...are broads."

Still, he insists a few minutes later, again to both Frankfurt and the camera:  "There are a million two hundred thousand women in this market," he says, "and nobody's paying any attention to them."

I certainly know even less about advertising than I do about the New York Titans, but I do know that the great success of advertising in the United States after 1967 grew out of a recognition that women were consumers of something more than just household goods during the week. To draw broad conclusions based on one or two moments in a carefully staged film would be silly, but Alex Kroll would eventually become a CEO at a time when more and more women would be in higher places on the corporate ladder, which meant that more women would definitely be playing golf.


Slimbo said...

My god. That Frankfurt film gives me a new and horrifying appreciation on how attractive, sharply dressed Manhattanites sit around and have endlessly vapid conversations, trying to anticipate my every move as I navigate my dizzying way through contemporary American existence.

"We gotta understand, picture this, you got a guy - he's a middle management nobody goin' nowhere fast, he's hit a wall, no one understands him and he feels like he's never fit in. So what's gonna make him pick up Edge Shaving Cream versus the other brands?"

Infinite Jets said...

You got it. Now, why do you prefer Edge to the other leading brands?