Feb. 2, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA: New York Jets former quarterback Joe Namath walks the red carpet prior to the Super Bowl XLVII NFL Honors award show at Mahalia Jackson Theater. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

New York Jets Joe Namath: It’s Time to Fade Away


44 years ago on January 12, 1969 Joe Namath led the Jets to their only Superbowl championship. Namath embodied New York because he was brash, bold, tough and never afraid to say what was on his mind. He owned New York then.  Fast forward 44 years later and a near 70-year-old Namath is still making headlines. This week he threw his support to Mark Sanchez and said the Jets did not need to draft a quarterback. He blamed Sanchez’s issues on “major distractions” that would be a “focus breaker” for anyone. Obviously he is referencing Tim Tebow and the distraction he brings with him such as his rabid fan base as well as the intense media scrutiny. There are many different reasons for Sanchez’s failure last year ranging from Tebow to lack of quality receivers who couldn’t gain separation to a lack of confidence to not being able to handle the pressure or even a regressing skill set. People can choose to believe what they want and Joe Namath is no different. What Joe did was cause an unnecessary fire storm that Geno Smith (the quarterback that didn’t need to be drafted according to Namath), Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan have to put out. Also it got Namath’s name back in the headlines.

This is hardly the first time that Namath has used his opinions on the Jets to get himself back in the spotlight. April 25th of this year on “The Michael Kay Show”, Namath said he doesn’t think Rex Ryan will be back next year and that he doesn’t understand why he was brought back with a depleted roster. In November of 2012, Namath ripped Woody Johnson on an SNY Podcast saying,

“I think the focus is changed, subtly, it’s more toward grabbing headlines, and everything starts at the top. And you can go back to when the seat licenses were initiated, how we started conducting things. I don’t think winning has been put at the top of the board. Winning headlines has replaced that.”

Last March he once again backed Sanchez saying that Tebow trade “stinks” and was “a slap in the face to Mark Sanchez”. There is plenty more where this came from and that is just going back 12 months.

Joe Namath’s first prolonged return to the public eye following his bout with alcoholism coincided with the Jets success in 2009 and 2010. With the Jets being close to a Super Bowl berth, Namath became a frequent radio and television guest and he parlayed that into his own website broadwayjoe.tv as well as a weekly radio spot on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN Radio.

Whether you agree with Namath’s opinions or not it is hard to ignore that all of the headlines begin with his name. The same brash, headline-grabbing behavior that people loved 44 years ago is starting to wear thin. I will always appreciate what Joe Namath has done and meant to the franchise but now is a time for him to fade away. It will be great to see him at the stadium or at charity functions for the team but when asked about the team he should defer to the decision makers or learn two words foreign to him “no comment”.

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  • Joe Willie

    Agree time for Joe to back off—30 + years ago on his one season commentating on MNF he would never take a stand criticizing players or coaches and was dumped off the show–now it seems he has caught the ESPN virus and just blurts negativity for the effect –like so called jet fan Greenie on the Mike and Mike show.

    • matr dontelli iii

      i recently said the same thing, it’s like he’s vying for an espn job. a few years ago, when he appeared with the team on hard knocks he still showed some reasoning, however he seems to have lost that. i distinctly remember him saying last winter, that mark should go, his time is up here, it’s time to move on. now we shouldn’t have drafted a qb? after last year we shoulda just sat back and rolled the dice with mark, greg and matt? i don’t think so, joe. and if you think so then maybe you just don’t think.

  • Atlanta

    Namath was the only Jet quarterback who took the rest of the team to the Superbowl. Remember? What do you know about football? You can’t even get journalism right. Between you and Jets Admin, no wonder Jets have lost life long fans. Thanks for bringing Joe to the spotlight again. His opinion is worth more that one word from ignorant and obviously bored journalists.

    • matr dontelli iii

      joe was a great qb 40 plus years ago. his opinion on sanchez has changed 180 degrees in less than six months with no games played during that span. THAT is a valuable opinion?!? i think not. btw the team he brought to the superbowl picked off four colt passes and held them to seven points.

      • Atlanta

        Considering the mess the Jets Admin seems to be in, changing one’s mind shows ability to reevaluate situations, not stuck with the same mindset. I know I sure have changed my mind about the Jets in the last six months. As per Sanchez, refer to Namath’s website to see his opinion on Sanchez a year ago.

        • matr dontelli iii

          at the end of last season he said mark could be a quarterback in his league, but don’t do it here. it’s time to move on. now he says they didn’t need to draft a qb, they already had mark. that’s an awful big change of opinion. as far as the administration, i have no use for the owner. he should keep his mouth shut because every time he opens it he sounds like an idiot. that said, i think he did a damn good job in hiring his gm. the guy was handcuffed with ‘no talent and no caproom’. he’s given himself a bit of caproom, cut a bunch of fringe or over-the-hill players and his first draft is likely to produce four or more starters this season. you can’t change everything overnight. there were not many qb options in free agency so he rolled the dice on garrard. he didn’t win but he didn’t lose anything either. goodson does not have a history of doing stupid stuff. he was relatively low-cost and high ceiling. we’ll see how his court stuff plays out and maybe (hopefully) he’ll be innocent of the gun charges. the team is on the right track in my opinion. we’ll see how quick idzik can get them where they want to go.

          • Atlanta

            Much to my dismay, Namath has always thought Sanchez gave them the best chance to win (seasons 2009 -2010) I did not agree with him, why I remember it so well. As for the Jets, after 40+yrs as a faithful fan thru all those bad seasons. it breaks my heart that the Jets have finally lost my love and my loyalty. The last season and decisions that have been made, I have had enough. Please don’t speak ill of him. It looks like he’s the best the Jets will ever have

          • matr dontelli iii

            as far as sanchez goes, i’m really on the fence. he has the ability but i don’t know that the fanbase will allow him to stay. they’re looking for blood. i can certainly understand being fed up by the goings on over the last two years but keep in mind the old gm is out. to me he was the root of the problems; bad drafting and worse decisions. you might wanna carefully look at the moves made by the current gm before saying goodbye. i think we’re on the right track. i’ve said before i think we’re much closer to our next super bowl than our last.

          • Atlanta

            You know, you make alot of sense. I’ve given the Jets so much of my life, it’s like getting a divorce. All these guys are so talented and I really can’t imagine going thru fall and winter w/o them. I really think Sanchez might be able to make it, if allowed to just settle down and play. But who could think butt-fumble would become part of our vocabulary.

          • matr dontelli iii

            that game made me sick. when things go wrong, no matter how wrong, i try to think ‘things could always be worse’. the only way things woulda got worse that day woud have been catastrophic injuries to our future, guys like mo and coples. fortunately that didn’t happen. i really don’t know how rex put mark back out for the next possession after the buttfumble. but that was last year. my feelings going forward are: we have a dynamic and versatile defensive line which is going to help our secondary and linebackers. we have a ton of depth in the secondary which may keep wilson, who i consider a liability, off the field. the offensive line should be a strength with the additions of winters and colon, plus we now have depth on the line. the running backs are much improved. the offensive coordinator is immeasurably improved. we’re still weak at wr and te. rex knows his job is on the line. we have the qb of the future on the roster in case mark can’t get back to his 2010 level. if we get decent ‘c’ level qb play to go with our defense we should compete for a playoff berth. we have a gm who doesn’t give a damn what the press think or say. he’s got a plan and believes in himself. i am thrilled with the changes we’ve made since the dreadful 2012 season ended and i hope you stick around with us to enjoy the brighter days ahead. in the immortal words of woody: truth, justice and the american way

          • Atlanta

            The O line needs some work. Too many holes last year, there was alot of blame to go around though. WR & TE positions are scary, because, like the qb, a successful play counts so much on their performance. Defense is always stellar due to Rex. Thanks for the pep chat. I still have my NYJets scrapbook from 1970, and like i said, my heart is broken, but i see light at the end. It won’t be as long as it has been to superbowl. Guess i needed to vent to a fellow Jet fan. not too many to be found in Atlanta. We have a Ryan too.

          • matr dontelli iii

            i think the line will be fine this year with the additions of colon and peterson and the drafting of winters. they’ve added some depth in aboushi, campbell and the backup center udfa ( he was an all-american). it sounds like there is potential in a couple of the udfa receivers and i think everyone is hoping hayden smith can take off this year. he was described by mr t. as giving the defense fits in practices last year. i think we’d all like to see a stronger receiving corps but given the shape we were in following last year i think idzik better than could have been expected. between mornhinweg and the improved backfied and line we should be able to somewhat hide the receiver deficiencies. no insult intended towards the falcons, but i think we’ve got the better ryan here. :-) the falcons, however, probably have more talent than we do, but we’re gettin’ there. i’ve enjoyed this ilttle discussion. good luck to the falcons, except when we play them :-)

          • Craig Hoffman

            Plenty of June 1st and training camp cuts that can help the team still. A lot of teams have loaded up at WR, TE & Safety and there will have to be cuts to get to their final rosters. Hayden Smith is a wild card if he has improved like some have said that will be a huge help.

          • Atlanta

            I’ve never been a big falcon fan, but the city’s excited. See ya at Superbowl L. Jets vs. Falcons I couldn’t lose. Take care.

  • Craig Hoffman

    Which mess are the Jets Administration in, Atlanta? Next year they will have 11 picks and roughly between 40-50 million in cap room to continue the rebuild. This year’s draft will yield 5 immediate starters most likely (Milliner, Richardson, Smith, Winters, Bohanon). This has always been about cleaning the cap mess this year and setting up 2014 and beyond.

    • Atlanta

      “Does the word Rebuilding tell you that everything is perfect? The very word means the team is down, and it’s not their fault. The jets admin seems to be intent on destroying careers, instead of rebuilding. Get rid of good players and rebuild? Maybe the buzz word about the organization that is best understood is “Circus:” I also thought football was about players and their talent, not salary caps and jet overspending. As far as Namath, it looks like you’ve had your best. I guess Namath’s talk is cheap for Jets now. Jets signed him for $400,000 and a new car. In return they got a superbowl and something called respect. Something that is needed so badly now, but front office apparently doesn’t seem to have. Don’t be so quick to put him away. Perhaps we may see a Jet playoff by 2018. It takes time to put something together.

      • Craig Hoffman

        Everything isn’t perfect but it is getting better. There is no argument about it. You may want football to be about just players and their talent but it isn’t completely about that. There is a cap and there was a mess to clean up and there still is. The team terribly overspent during Tannenbaum’s last two years and had no depth due to the roster being top heavy. It is Idzik’s job to create flexibility both on the roster and with the cap and he has done that well so far. I don’t know whose career the team “ruined” in your mind. Other than trading Revis which good players left? How much were those players paid on the open market?

        • Atlanta

          Take a look at Sanchez for example. The pressure from his team last year could have been avoided, and it looks like his year may not be any better. That was very distracting. The problem I had was with your article about Namath. Jets have come along way on his name, and no decent Jet fan would talk about him like that. Once again, thanks for keeping his name out there. The Jets are no longer my problem. like you say 44 yrs ago, I’ve been thru 44 yrs. of bad seasons with the Jets. I am no longer concerned with the franchise. To the Jets these players are a commodity to be sold at best price.

          • Craig Hoffman

            I respect your opinion about Namath but I do not share the same sentiments. I also don’t agree with the fact that all the years since have been bad as that is factually inaccurate. Since 1998 the Jets have made the playoffs more than most and have 3 AFC Championship Game appearances. The teams of the early to mid-80′s were good as well.

          • Atlanta

            3 AFC championship games, yeah they will break your heart. just can’t get your hopes up. Anyway my decision about the Jets isn’t what it’s about. I wasted enough time and money on the Jets it matters not to me. IT’S ABOUT NAMATH., as I have said.

  • Craig Hoffman

    Namath will always be an icon of the franchise. It has been 44 years now and it is time to live in the present not to have the ghost of Super Bowl past hover above every decision the team makes.

  • Craig Hoffman

    Perfect example is when the Jets were courting Peyton Manning. Marino was trying to sell Manning on the Dolphins extolling the virtues of a franchise that just plain sucks while Namath said the Jets were too dysfunctional to deserve Manning. He is allowed his opinion but why try to hurt the team you say you love?

  • http://twitter.com/EBobadilla79 Edgar NYJet

    As a jets fan I love Broadway Joe and I thinks he’s right a lot of times … The headline things it was true, Giants win the Super Bowl we get Tebow, he’s right about Mark 3 systems in 4 year, Tebow, of course he’s going to suck, ohhh lets not forget no WR last year everyone was injured… I like and think he tell the Jets what they need to hear. I’m not saying we should stick with mark just stating the facts.

    • Craig Hoffman

      Agree with his opinions or not I feel that the problem is the additional firestorm his comments cause. The stuff he said Woody, right or wrong, were extremely harsh and unnecessary. His comments both dredged up and perpetuated the “circus” characterization that is just now starting to subside.

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