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Leon Hess enters NJ Hall of Fame


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Hess Posthumously Enters NJ Hall of Fame

Posted by Randy Lange on June 8, 2011 – 2:53 pm

Here’s one more salute to the memory of Leon Hess.

Hess, the former Jets owner and longtime Garden State resident and businessman, was inducted posthumously into the New Jersey Hall of Fame on Sunday night.

He was one of the group of five men who originally bought the New York Titans out of bankruptcy early in 1963, and appropriately enough, his induction was presented to the crowd at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark by none other than Joe Namath, who was drafted by Hess, Sonny Werblin and the Jets ownership group in 1965 and signed a contract for the then shocking sum of $427,000. Connie Hess Williams, Hess’ daughter, accepted the induction honor from Namath.

Hess became sole owner of the team in 1984 and he always treasured the Jets and wanted to see them return to the Super Bowl. He held few news conferences over the years but he became known for addressing team and giving them a Hess peptalk following each Thanksgiving Day practice.

After hiring Bill Parcells to coach the Green & White in 1997, he almost got his Super wish when the Big Tuna, Vinny Testaverde and the Jets reached the AFC Championship Game before losing to the Broncos, 23-10, in Denver. Hess died four months later at 85. Soon after, Woody Johnson, the Jets’ current president/CEO, bought the team from the Hess estate.

When Hess did speak, he was an engaging interviewee. He regaled fans and reporters with details of how he used to dig up clams on the beach near his home in Asbury Park. As detailed in the Star-Ledger story on the event, he got his start running running a one-truck oil delivery business in Asbury Park during the Depression. Today, Hess is one of the largest oil companies in the country, with more than 1,360 Hess stations, refineries in New Jersey and the Virgin Islands, and operations in the United States, South America, Africa, Europe, Eurasia and the Asian Pacific.

Two other NFL luminaries in the hall’s fourth class are Pro Football Hall of Fame RB Franco Harris and Super Bowl-winning QB Joe Theismann. The other 10 in the hall’s fourth class: Bruce Willis, John Travolta, Tony Bennett, Queen Latifah, Martha Stewart, former Gov. Brendan Byrne, World War II heroes John Basilone and Admiral William “Bull” Halsey, novelist Mary Higgins Clark and jazz great John “Bucky” Pizzarelli.

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i cant be the only one who goes out of there way to still patronize Hess gas stations........if i pass one i almost always make up an excuse to go in and buy something (whether its 5 bucks of gas or a gatorade)......i am 33 yrs old, of all the marketing and commercials i have been exposed to in my life, Hess is the only brand that i feel an emotional connection to. I still remember gazing up at that huge Hess sign at the old Meadowlands like it was yesterday......the toy truck every year didnt hurt either!

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