QB “BROADWAY JOE” NAMATH | NEW YORK, BROADS & BOLD PREDICTIONS

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From the desk of Contributing Editor, Eli M. Getson–

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Teammate Sherman Plunkett gave Namath his nickname after seeing this 1965 Sports Illustrated cover with Namath standing in front of New York City’s infamous avenue. The Hall of Famer lived up to the name with both his brash fur coats and bold predictions, the most well known coming in 1969 when he guaranteed his 19-point underdog Jets would defeat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. They did, 17-6, and Namath was named MVP.  Photographed by: James Drake for Sports Illustrated

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Try to wrap your head around this–  you’re the quarterback for the New York Jets in 1968-69; leading an upstart team from the counterculture AFL into Super Bowl III against the heavily-favored Baltimore Colts. You’re the poster-boy in the battle of the longhairs and freaks (Jets) versus the ultimate symbol of straight, corporate NFL excellence  (Colts).  You’re young, very single, and beyond sexy — like catnip to the ladies — you own NY.  You have that sense of immortality that comes with being young, rich, and very, very good.

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New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath lounges by the pool with press and fans before Super Bowl III.  Photographed by: Walter Iooss Jr. for Sports Illustrated

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To say it’s a charmed life is the understatement of the century.  Those heady days leading up to Super Bowl III, rewrote the script for the celebrity athlete, the Super Bowl, and the fortunes of an upstart league of misfits, outlaws & free spirits.  No matter what happened afterward, Joe Namath etched himself into our collective consciousness in that first month of ‘69.  We all dreamt of being like Joe–carousing Manhattan’s hottest spots all hours of the night with a blond and brunette as bookends, armed with a bottle of Jack, letting it all hang out– and still having enough to burn the Raiders the next day.  Dick Schaap, Namath biographer (and later co-host of the Joe Namath Show), said he witnessed just this before the AFL Championship that year.  A legendary story celebrated by us fans– the ultimate testament to how cocksure our QB was.  Today he would have been pilloried for his lack of “focus”, back then we celebrated how fun it all was and lived vicariously through “Broadway Joe”.

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Circa 1970– Rome, N.Y.: Jets’ star quarterback Joe Namath turns equestrian for his role in the forthcoming motion picture, C.C and Company. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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We all know what happened next– Miami, The Orange Bowl, the “Guarantee”, and then going out and making it happen.  Miami Beach must have been a helluva good time that week.  New York is a demanding town– you come to be great or be gone.   If you can back up your bravado with action and bring home the prize then we will love you forever, no matter how much you embarrass yourself or us later on.  We owe you that much for the memories alone.

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