Broadway Joe, whose football career is the stuff of legend, has turned 75.
Joseph William Namath was born May 31, 1943. He played college football for the University of Alabama under coach Paul “Bear” Bryant from 1962 to 1964, and professional football in the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (NFL) during the 1960s and 1970s.
Namath was an AFL icon and played for that league’s New York Jets for most of his professional career. He finished playing for the Los Angeles Rams, and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.
The apex of Namath’s career, of course, was his performance in the upstart Jets’ 16–7 stunning win over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III in January 1969, shortly before the AFL–NFL merger. The Colts’ renowned defense was unable to contain the Jets’ running or passing game, while the ineffective offense gave up four interceptions to the Jets. Namath was the Super Bowl MVP, completing eight passes to George Sauer alone for 133 yards. The win made him the first quarterback to start and win a national championship game in college, a major professional league championship, and in a Super Bowl. The Jets’ win gave the AFL instant legitimacy even to skeptics.
The New York Post put Namath’s career in perspective. “For many people, Namath will always be 25 years old with his right index pointed to the sky, jogging off the Orange Bowl field as the Super Bowl III MVP, his famous guarantee realized. Others will remember Namath in Hanes’ Beautymist pantyhose or in a fur coat on the sideline. For some, it will be throwing a football to Bobby Brady on “The Brady Bunch.” Still others it will not be an image, but that voice — that syrupy mix of Beaver Falls, Tuscaloossa and New York that is one of a kind.”
Here are some of the outspoken quarterback’s most infamous quotes:
* We’re going to win Sunday. I guarantee it.
* Till I was 13, I thought my name was ‘Shut Up.’
* When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun. And when you have fun, you can do amazing things.
* I’d rather go to Vietnam than get married.
* I don’t care what a man is as long as he treats me right. He can be a gambler, a hustler, someone everybody else thinks is obnoxious, I don’t care so long as he’s straight with me and our dealings are fair.
* The name of the game is ‘kill the quarterback.’ Every football team tries to knock the guy out of the game that’s handling the ball.
* When you win, nothing hurts.
* If you aren’t going all the way, why go at all?
* After my first knee operation, in January of ’65 before I went to the Jets, Dr. James Nicholas told me everything went well and that I could probably play four years in the NFL. The surgery was trailblazing to a certain extent.