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

*

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

*

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

*

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.

*

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

*

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”.

*

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

*

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.

*

*

Continue reading

HOUNDSTOOTH, PIGSKIN & TRADITION | ALABAMA’S PAUL “BEAR” BRYANT

*

Paul “Bear” Bryant (left) with baseball’s legendary A’s owner, Charles O. Finley or “Charley O” (right).

*

From the desk of Contributing Editor, Eli M Getson–

*

The other day I was watching the Philadelphia Eagles play an entertaining one against the New York Giants.  When NBC did the inevitable sideline shot of Eagles coach Andy Reid, I could not help but notice that he was clad in an all black nylon get-up emblazoned with Eagles’ logo that made him look like an NFL version of “Big Pussy” from The Sopranos.  This “NFL Licensed Apparel meets Sergio Tacchini track suit look” is pretty comical on such a big dude, and it made we wonder– why is it that coaches are not required to wear a coat and tie on the sidelines anymore for the sake of decorum?  It may help the guy who is in the midst of a 4-12 season keep his job–  or at least help him look more in control.  The sidelines have become another place where “Casual Friday” has spread its insidious reach.

Whatever happened to the tradition of the team coach actually getting dressed like a grown man?  It makes me long for the last guy who dressed with some style and respect–  like he was going to church. Maybe it’s because for him the sidelines were his church– Paul “Bear” Bryant.

*

Legendary coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant in a familiar pose– leaning against the goalpost.

*

With the Crimson Tide vying for the National title in the Rose Bowl on January 7th, it’s only fitting we pay homage to Paul “Bear” Bryant– a player and coach, synonymous with Alabama football.  He also did more for houndstooth than anyone short of the Scotsman who invented the pattern.  Bryant played “the other end” to NFL Hall-of-Famer, fellow Arkansan, and lifelong friend, Don Hutson on Alabama’s 1934 National championship team– and was second team all SEC that year.  After graduating in 1936, Bryant began his coaching career which finally led him back to Alabama in 1958.  “Bear” Bryant said about his return to Alabama– “Momma called.  And when Momma calls, you just have to come runnin’.” By 1961 Bryant had his first National title, and would lead the Tide to five more in ’64, ’65, ’73, ’78, ‘and ’79. Along the way he would coach such greats as Lee Roy Jordan, Joe Namath, Kenny Stabler, Ozzie Newsome, Slyvester Croom, and Dwight Stephenson.

*

Continue reading