I realized today that I have written only a couple of stories about football, and only one about a professional football player (OJ Simpson) and even that story was mostly about OJ’s career at USC.
So to be fair to one our Country’s favorite pastimes I decided it was time to highlight some football.
Joe Willie Namath or Broadway Joe as he was fondly described by his faithful New York Jet fans was named the NFL’s Greatest Character by a 2019 poll by the Associated Press of 60 football historians.
Joe, despite somewhat less than Super numbers, was elected to the National Football League’s Hall of Fame. Namath threw roughly 50 more interceptions than touchdowns during his 14 year career, and his teams won 68 games while losing 71.
Obviously, Joe Namath was a lot more than a quarterback for the New York Jets.
In 1969, Joe became famous for his prediction that the Jets would beat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. Fortunately for Joe, he made good on his guarantee, beating the Colts 16-7, making him an instant legend, if he wasn’t already. Joe’s brashness and prediction has carried him for the last 50 years. After his retirement from the game, he starred in over 10 movies and more than 20 television shows.
Joe Namath put the American Football League on the map…
But wait a minute. There is more to Joe besides his Broadway Joe persona. Paul “Bear” Bryant, iconic head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide referred to Joe as the greatest athlete he had ever coached. That was quite a statement coming from Bryant and his many great seasons and great teams and great players over his many years of coaching. Joe Namath must have had the gifts.
Joe Namath was 6’3”, and weighed in at just over 200 pounds….he always looked a bit vulnerable out there. His slight-appearing frame seemed to make him an easy target for defensive ends and linebackers.
I don’t know how Joe Namath would fare today, given some of the super quarterbacks that have come along since his retirement. Joe’s greatest asset seemed to be his ability to bring attention to the game and to himself. There are still a lot of New Yorkers that love Joe Willie. There are still at lot of NFL fans that were originally drawn to the game by Joe’s endearing personality.
SSOMG remembers Joe in his good old days…a few short years that carried him for a generation. The NFL owes Joe a lot of appreciation for making the game the popular phenomenon that it is today. Of course SSOMG is hoping there will be a 2020 season that Joe and the rest of us can watch and enjoy, with renewed appreciation.