At present Wismer is rocketing back and forth across the country broadcasting Notre Dame games and pushing both the Titans and the new American Football League, even if it means knocking the rival National Football League. "We don't have any ex-bookmakers or dog track operators in our league!" he tells one and all. AFL attendance has been low, but each team gets $200,000 or more a year for television rights. "The whole difference in this league is the sale of television, and your old buddy here sold it," Wismer says, modestly. "The American Football League is the league of the future!"
To protect that future Wismer will go to any lengths. When he heard that Lamar Hunt and Bud Adams, the young Texas millionaires who founded the league, were going to meet secretly with an NFL representative, he had them tailed by a private eye. "They were going to meet with Halas at the Chicago Athletic Club," he says. "I know the rooms, everything. Certainly I know they met with Halas. I had to make sure these boys would stand up. They did. After all, we weren't lifelong friends. We're going all the way, and I've got to make sure the people with me are going all the way. I've gambled everything. I'm not getting a dime. I don't have an H.L. Hunt, a Boots Adams or a Conrad Hilton to back me up."
Wismer's day begins at 6:30 in the morning and lasts till midnight. He is constantly on the go. His personal phone bill averages $1,200 a month. In the evening he often roams his home turf, the East 40s and 50s of Manhattan, boosting his Titans. One night last week, for example, he ranged from the Quo Vadis to a Lexington Avenue bar distributing passes and Titan pens. His foray into Le Pavilion was typical.
"Congratulations!" he cried to Henri Soul�, the proprietor. When Henri looked blank, Wismer added, "You're doing the greatest job in the country!"
Wismer gave passes to Andr�, the bartender, and to the girl behind the cashier's counter. He moved into the dining room, where he greeted Corrine Griffith, the silent screen star who is George Marshall's ex-wife. Then he spied an old friend. "Hi, Richard!" he called.
"Harry!" exclaimed the Vice-President of the United States.
"Pat!" said Wismer. "Fred!" said Wismer to the Secretary of the Interior. "Bill!" said Wismer to the Attorney General.
Back at the bar, Wismer exulted. "I'm not afraid of anyone," he said, "and I know how to operate. What the hell, how many guys would go in and say what I said to Nixon? What the hell, he's an American citizen! If he doesn't like it, he can get lost."
Wismer left Le Pavilion joyous. "Those people genuinely like me! See that little girl?" He stopped, closed his eyes and clasped his hands together in imitation of the cashier. "She's praying for me!"
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