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Eight lessons from reading Namath

J. Namath

Sometimes I read books about football.  I usually write down numbers of interesting pages on scrap paper and then never look at the scrap again.  My wife loves this.

After reading Mark Kriegel’s terrific and lively biography on Joe Namath, I thought I’d pass a few of the notes along.

1. During the era of Jets owner Sonny Werblin, writers flew in first class and the players were in coach on team flights.  One writer noted “everybody would be bombed” before the flight took off.

Yeah, things have changed a little in media-team relations in the last 50 years.  (Rex Ryan, incidentally, remind us a little of Werblin. He sells and that steals attention from the reserved Giants.)

2. The AFL Jets battled the NFL Cardinals for Namath’s rights. There were strong rumors at the time the Cardinals were doing the bidding for the Giants, who would trade for the pick. The Giants wouldn’t admit it, but Namath confirmed the story.

3. Namath once told a fan to go ‘f– yourself’ on a family picnic day at training camp after getting heckled.  He then told a nearby reporter: “Yeah, you can go ahead and print that, too. I don’t give a f—.”

We’re just trying to imagine the reaction if a quarterback tried that in this era.

4. Namath was accused of being drunk in team meetings by coaches, especially early in his career.  One time he went AWOL at training camp when his brother got some terrible medical news. Namath was spotted far away in New York City by the sports editor for Time magazine, and some sort of altercation ensued. Years of legal battles followed.

5. Jets fans booed Namath lustily early in his career because he threw so many interceptions.

“How do I know that all of this couldn’t end tomorrow? It could, you know, it really could,” Namath said.  He was 23.

6. Trash talking was a lot more fun then. Namath said before Super Bowl III that opposing starter Earl Morrall was worse than at least five AFL quarterbacks, including Namath’s 39-year-old backup Babe Parilli.

7. Namath and two teammates skipped “Picture Day” at the Super Bowl. He was out late the night before and almost came to blows with a Colts player at a bar.

“If they want to take pictures of me, they are going to have to take them later than 10 o’clock,” Namath said.

8. How much have our attitudes changed about the preseason?  Many Jets — perhaps most — said their 1969 exhibition blowout win over the Giants meant more to them than the Super Bowl III win earlier that year.  Really.

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46 Responses to “Eight lessons from reading Namath”
  1. semperfi24 says: Aug 9, 2011 1:11 PM

    Wait, the Jets have been around since 1969? Reading comments from Jets fans, the team has only been around for the last 2 years….

  2. umrguy42 says: Aug 9, 2011 1:19 PM

    In regards to the preseason stuff – seemed like, for several years after Super Bowl XXXIV, even in the preseason the Titans would step up their games against the Rams, as if they could avenge their SB loss.

  3. mackie66 says: Aug 9, 2011 1:19 PM

    Just try that in this era? What? The QB in this era might pull a pistol.

  4. jw731 says: Aug 9, 2011 1:19 PM

    Great Arm, bad knees,Alabama education, NY city lifestyle, pantyhose, booze and Suzy Kobler……I just wrote his life story in less than 20 words……

  5. The Prophet says: Aug 9, 2011 1:19 PM

    nice change of pace from the usual stories of this furious offseason. sounds like an interesting book, if only I could motivate myself to read more than websites …

  6. ken0west says: Aug 9, 2011 1:19 PM

    The Ol’ Ball Coach also had a preseason blowout win that highlighted his tenure in the NFL.

  7. touchdownsyndrome says: Aug 9, 2011 1:19 PM

    “I don’t care about the Jets STRUGGALIN…. I wan’t to kiss you!”

  8. ICDogg says: Aug 9, 2011 1:23 PM

    Did you get to the bottom of whether Super Bowl III was fixed?

  9. ace613 says: Aug 9, 2011 1:27 PM

    @semperfi24

    From one Marine that is a Patriots fan to another- kudos to you sir for that comment. Couldnt have said it better myself.

  10. touchdownroddywhite says: Aug 9, 2011 1:28 PM

    Sounds like an interesting read. Might check it out.

  11. footballmaven says: Aug 9, 2011 1:32 PM

    Namath and the Jets were a lot of fun back then, but compared to modern day QBs Joe was a bum…way too many INT’s , too much partying,not enough work. He always had trouble getting the ball into the end zone (even during the Super Bowl… three short FG’s)..and he should have given Jim Turner half his paycheck.

  12. CKL says: Aug 9, 2011 1:34 PM

    He’s overrated and overly arrogant and his very presence in the HOF shows what the media loving a guy because he makes their job easier can do for him. He’s always come off as someone who feels he was bigger than the team or game (like Favre). I hate that type of attitude so much.
    Color me shocked that he acted like that to a fan or in general.

  13. joetoronto says: Aug 9, 2011 1:39 PM

    Life wasn’t just allot more fun back then, it was allot more simple too.

  14. ampats says: Aug 9, 2011 1:52 PM

    Memories for Jet fans.

    On January 12,1969 almost 43 years ago the 2nd greatest victory in the NYJ franchise occured when the Jets LAST appeared in a Super Bowl.

    Not to be outdone as most jets fans today weren’t born yet ( as they contnue to be the red headed step children for four decades of NY football) the Jets celebrated their greatest victory in Foxboro,MA beating the #1 seed in the AFC Semi Finals.

    A week later after losing AGAIN in the AFCC jets fans were still delirious celebrating their 28-21 win and that according to their HC they would have won the SB and once again are the team to beat this season.

    Since their win 43 years ago, the jets have won the AFC East three times. This proud franchise boasts the 7th worst all time record in the NFL.

    J ust
    E nd
    T his
    S —

  15. Chris Fiorentino says: Aug 9, 2011 2:05 PM

    Worst QB in the Hall of Fame. It is pathetic that he is even in there…a product of the New York hype machine.

  16. sgm23 says: Aug 9, 2011 2:07 PM

    Lots of Pats love on an article dedicated to Namath and the Jets. Don’t forget Pats fans, your loss in the Super Bowl to the Giants was only the 2nd greatest upset in Super Bowl history. Enjoy Haynesworth and your latest playoff loss chowdaheads.

  17. waldoampere says: Aug 9, 2011 2:15 PM

    Namath was the gunslinger in a gunslinger’s league. Probably could have spent less time partying off the field although that is part of the legend of Broadway Joe. For those too young, along with Ali he was the most popular and famous sports figure in the country. Many of his INTs were because DBs could maul WRs all over the field back then before the ball was thrown. He also played on horrible knees. BTW, if it weren’t for Namath and the Jets winning SB III there might not be a Super Bowl today.

  18. whoisgonnasing says: Aug 9, 2011 2:25 PM

    “We’re just trying to imagine the reaction if a quarterback tried that in this era.” – wait what about M Vick flipping off fans? that wasnt this era?

    We have much more boorish behavior these days. You mean Haynesworth didnt assault a driver, and I’m not even getting into Ron Artest style assaults.

    They were innocents back then.

  19. buckybadger says: Aug 9, 2011 2:25 PM

    @Chris Fiorentino, I agree he shouldn’t be in the HOF but it wasn’t New York hype more than it was just his character. If he doesn’t guarantee that win he isn’t in.

  20. jetsfan80 says: Aug 9, 2011 2:27 PM

    Actually, since 1959 as the NY Titans, and became the Jets in ’63. But, like all of you Jets haters, you knew that and everything else about the Jets and football.

  21. jetsfan80 says: Aug 9, 2011 2:28 PM

    semperfi24 says: Aug 9, 2011 1:11 PM

    Wait, the Jets have been around since 1969? Reading comments from Jets fans, the team has only been around for the last 2 years….

    Actually, since 1959 as the NY Titans, and became the Jets in ’63. But, like all of you Jets haters, you knew that and everything else about the Jets and football.

  22. rayguyreturns says: Aug 9, 2011 2:31 PM

    CKL says:
    He’s overrated and overly arrogant and his very presence in the HOF shows what the media loving a guy because he makes their job easier can do for him.
    _____________________________________

    I doubt many of you would say that about Joe Willy if you actually saw him play in person. I watched him throw for 400 yards against us and he picked apart guys like Willie Brown. Even though we did win the game, he did things throwing a football I had never seen. The touch, power, release…he was amazing. And this coming from a fan that was rooting against him!
    He also took the first AFL team to a Super Bowl win. I’d give him HOF just for that.

  23. RexCanCoach says: Aug 9, 2011 2:33 PM

    We don’t need Mark Sanchez to be another Namath…well, actually we do.

    Just go the super bowl and WIN BABY.

    It will take most of our offensive line to carry big ol Rex off of the Indy turf next February!!

  24. bozosforall says: Aug 9, 2011 2:34 PM

    semperfi24 says:
    Aug 9, 2011 1:11 PM
    Wait, the Jets have been around since 1969? Reading comments from Jets fans, the team has only been around for the last 2 years….

    __
    ALMOST as bad as Pats fans (most all of them) that pretend that they were real fans pre-2001.

  25. ace613 says: Aug 9, 2011 2:36 PM

    jetsfan80 says:
    Aug 9, 2011 2:28 PM

    Actually, since 1959 as the NY Titans, and became the Jets in ’63. But, like all of you Jets haters, you knew that and everything else about the Jets and football.

    ————————————————-
    Good for you knowing how to use Wikipedia!!!

  26. bozosforall says: Aug 9, 2011 2:38 PM

    ampats says:
    Aug 9, 2011 1:52 PM
    Memories for Jet fans.

    On January 12,1969 almost 43 years ago the 2nd greatest victory in the NYJ franchise occured when the Jets LAST appeared in a Super Bowl.

    Not to be outdone as most jets fans today weren’t born yet ( as they contnue to be the red headed step children for four decades of NY football) the Jets celebrated their greatest victory in Foxboro,MA beating the #1 seed in the AFC Semi Finals.

    A week later after losing AGAIN in the AFCC jets fans were still delirious celebrating their 28-21 win and that according to their HC they would have won the SB and once again are the team to beat this season.

    Since their win 43 years ago, the jets have won the AFC East three times. This proud franchise boasts the 7th worst all time record in the NFL.

    J ust
    E nd
    T his
    S —

    ___
    43 years? Only HALF of the draught that the Boston baseball team went through.

    And how many did the Pats win in that 43 years? Three, you say? Only a NINTH as many titles that the NY baseball team won while Boston was missing out.

    The joke is on you bitter New Englanders. New York will ALWAYS be the better city, while Boston will always be second fiddle. Populace, sports, you name it, Boston will always be second best. LMAO

  27. sgm23 says: Aug 9, 2011 2:40 PM

    When you are a QB that guarantees a victory in a Super Bowl where you are a 19 point underdog and win, you get in. Super Bowls, like World Series wins, are more likely to get you in. Don’t believe me? Look at the career numbers of Kirby Puckett versus Don Mattingly and tell me Kirby’s World Series performance isn’t the difference in Kirby being in and Donnie Baseball not.

  28. bozosforall says: Aug 9, 2011 2:40 PM

    jw731 says:
    Aug 9, 2011 1:19 PM
    Great Arm, bad knees,Alabama education, NY city lifestyle, pantyhose, booze and Suzy Kobler……I just wrote his life story in less than 20 words……

    __
    Spygate…just wrote the Patriots lasting legacy in one word. LMAO

  29. theytukrjobs says: Aug 9, 2011 2:41 PM

    It is a well known fact that back then people were more classy, refined, and were not jerks like the players and youth of today. Nowadays all you hear about are guys getting arrested and being drunk. Back then were the glory days. Less crime, less drugs, less teen pregnancy, and less violence. Back before people went to crap.

    (note: every single thing in the above post is inaccurate. Right now in America we have some of the lowest crime rates, drug usage rates, DWI rates, and teen pregnancy rates in the last 100 years. We live longer and own cooler stuff and treat each other better. Less of us smoke. More of us spend time doing charitable deeds, Etc. Racism doesn’t even remotely compare to what it was just 40 years ago. But you wouldn’t know any of that from listening to the news or your grandpa)

  30. hsatpft says: Aug 9, 2011 3:07 PM

    The world was very different in Namath’s prime, so was the NFL, so were NFL players. Did the 1969 Super Bowl cause the merger of the AFL & NFL all by itself? Of course not, but it sped things up. Was Namath the 1st flashy, big talking QB? Of course not, but he helped make the NFL the most popular league when it was behind both MLB & the NCAA. He’s in the HOF not just for his play but his place in the history of the NFL.

  31. ampats says: Aug 9, 2011 3:11 PM

    bozo, baseball pretty weak comeback from an equally weak poster.

    6 Super Bowls
    6 AFC Championships
    3 Lombardi’s
    8 out of 10 last AFC East Champions

  32. skylark70455 says: Aug 9, 2011 3:12 PM

    I’m hoping an in depth book on Richard Todd is next.

    What with Todd 2.0 now QBing the Jets…. the relevancy of his biography will never be higher!

  33. mangoldbond says: Aug 9, 2011 3:30 PM

    Joe Namath is a legend, whether anyone likes it or not. He is the father of the modern day passer and has paved the way for the fearless, gunslinger quarterbacks that aren’t afraid to take chances and have huge upside. He was an icon that put the popularity of the NFL and the Super Bowl on the map.

  34. pftequalsgreatjournalism says: Aug 9, 2011 3:30 PM

    Joe Willie was ahead of his time and is revered because he guaranteed the SB win over 40 years ago…

    Still waiting for Lard Azz to fulfill his promise…

  35. ICDogg says: Aug 9, 2011 3:31 PM

    He’s a hero, he’s a pro
    He’s a mister something else our Broadway Joe
    He’s a groovy sort of guy
    He can pass the football through a needle’s eye

  36. jetsfan80 says: Aug 9, 2011 3:40 PM

    ace613 says: Aug 9, 2011 2:36 PM

    jetsfan80 says:
    Aug 9, 2011 2:28 PM

    Actually, since 1959 as the NY Titans, and became the Jets in ’63. But, like all of you Jets haters, you knew that and everything else about the Jets and football.

    ————————————————-
    Good for you knowing how to use Wikipedia!!!

    I’m 27 years old and been a Jets fan since Ken O’Brien… I know my sports and my sports teams’ histories

  37. rajbais says: Aug 9, 2011 3:51 PM

    Oh, I thought it’d be 8 steps you’re told to take during Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

  38. murraysons says: Aug 9, 2011 3:59 PM

    Ampats is on a roll, way to go brother

  39. jetsuperbowl says: Aug 9, 2011 4:00 PM

    I can’t wait til the jets destroy the giants in the our season and more importantly on xmas eve. Giants fans remember last year when we made eli bleeeeeeed everywhere xmas eve there will be more bllooooooood!!! Jets 4 life!

  40. pmars64 says: Aug 9, 2011 4:20 PM

    For what it’s worth:

    Namath is first QB to throw for 4,000 yds and only QB to do it in 14 games. Of course, the AFL was a pass happy league, but DBs could maul receivers in those days, too. Considering that the next three highest passing yards in a season are 3,700+ twice and 3,400+ until 1978 (when the league went to 16 games and liberalized passing rules), his feat is amazing.

    John Madden said Namath was the best QB he ever saw, bar none. This was after he had been broadcasting for many years.

    Can’t think of one single player who did more for pro football than this guy. Just as pro football was starting to get big on TV, he comes around and polarized the fans, making those who loved and hated him to watch more. And he made those who didn’t care, want to watch as well. After the plodding and vanilla Packers, he gave football the juice it needed to expand its popularity.

  41. freaku2011 says: Aug 9, 2011 4:39 PM

    Go away Grampats besides isn’t it dinnertime for u right now anyway?

  42. blastfurnaceknows says: Aug 9, 2011 5:21 PM

    Most over-rated QB in NFL history. Most undeserving member of the NFL Hall of Fame. Drunk. Three descriptions that best describe Namath.

  43. monropoobah says: Aug 10, 2011 4:39 AM

    semperfi24 says:
    Aug 9, 2011 1:11 PM
    Wait, the Jets have been around since 1969? Reading comments from Jets fans, the team has only been around for the last 2 years….

    ace613 says:
    Aug 9, 2011 1:27 PM
    @semperfi24

    From one Marine that is a Patriots fan to another- kudos to you sir for that comment. Couldnt have said it better myself.

    i’m sorry your lives aren’t better than this. hovering on a jets blog to take another shot.

  44. drunkendegenerate says: Aug 10, 2011 12:19 PM

    Pre-2001 Boston sports pecking order:

    Bruins
    Red Sox
    Celtics
    Boston University Hockey
    Boston College Hockey
    Boston College Football
    Patriots

    FACT!

  45. ace613 says: Aug 10, 2011 2:12 PM

    monropoobah says:
    Aug 10, 2011 4:39 AM
    semperfi24 says:
    Aug 9, 2011 1:11 PM
    Wait, the Jets have been around since 1969? Reading comments from Jets fans, the team has only been around for the last 2 years….

    ace613 says:
    Aug 9, 2011 1:27 PM
    @semperfi24

    From one Marine that is a Patriots fan to another- kudos to you sir for that comment. Couldnt have said it better myself.

    i’m sorry your lives aren’t better than this. hovering on a jets blog to take another shot.

    ————————————————-Why because I read an article and I placed my opinion on it? Because Jets fans dont go on Patriots blogs and bring up their own crap? Go on the Ellis blog that was posted and see how much crap Jets fans wrote. I am actually quite happy with my life- question is what have you done?

  46. bozosforall says: Aug 10, 2011 3:34 PM

    ace613 says:
    Aug 10, 2011 2:12 PM
    monropoobah says:
    Aug 10, 2011 4:39 AM
    semperfi24 says:
    Aug 9, 2011 1:11 PM
    Wait, the Jets have been around since 1969? Reading comments from Jets fans, the team has only been around for the last 2 years….

    ace613 says:
    Aug 9, 2011 1:27 PM
    @semperfi24

    From one Marine that is a Patriots fan to another- kudos to you sir for that comment. Couldnt have said it better myself.

    i’m sorry your lives aren’t better than this. hovering on a jets blog to take another shot.

    ————————————————-Why because I read an article and I placed my opinion on it? Because Jets fans dont go on Patriots blogs and bring up their own crap? Go on the Ellis blog that was posted and see how much crap Jets fans wrote. I am actually quite happy with my life- question is what have you done?

    __
    Someone call the Wahhhmbulance for this guy. New Englanders have been taking shots at other teams forever. The hue and cry over the Yankees’ dominance over the Red Sox alone is more than every other crap posted regarding every other rivalry put together. You losers are the queens of whining.

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