The Day I Met The Legend
By Alex Parziale
When you think of a teams history certain players come to mind. For example the Baltimore Colts and Johnny U. The Seattle Seahawks and Steve Largent. The Redskins and Joe Theisman. Of course with the NY Jets it is Joe Willie Namath. Perhaps it is because for this franchise with is synonymous with the only Super Bowl win. Or perhaps it because he had the personality and athletic ability to play in New York and obtain the name “Broadway” Joe. Or perhaps it is the way as according to Joe said it on Hard Knocks. On the field it was all play and off the field it was all work. But what ever it was Joe Namath is the face of the NY Jets. And I know that Coach Ryan has installed this new NY Jet era. And the team is on the back pages of the paper for good, bad or other. Until Rex and his Qb (Sanchez or Tebow) can walk off the field waving that #1 finger in the air, Broadway Joe is still the face of the NY Jets.I was not born until 1972, so i didn’t see the team win it all. But I always heard the story of the guarantee. I remember watching MNF on TV and Joe having his number retired with the Jets. Some 12 years later I was volunteering my DJ/MC services to the Staten Island division of the March of Dimes. Each year I would provide sound. music and entertainment to the 2,000 plus walkers and volunteers for the annual Walk-A-Thon. 1998 they named Joe Namath and Freeman McNeil NY Chair and Co-Chairpersons of the event.It was a rainy miserable Sunday morning. Set up began about 5:30am. Joe & Freeman were to start off the Manhattan Walk first then stop y Staten Island later on.As the day dragged by walkers who would usually stay for the festivities left due to the bad weather. Then word came in that Joe and Freeman would try to stop by and say hi to the remaining people at the finish line.While vendors closed up and people left van pulled up and low and behold out came Joe, his daughter and Freeman. out of the 2,000 plus people maybe about 300 – 500 had remained. Mostly older men who witnessed Broadway Joe’s magic. Before I knew it Joe was standing next to me and ask me for my microphone. He started off with thanking everyone for their help and support to the March Of Dimes. Then as only Joe can do he started charming the crowd with his feelings of a Jet/Giant Super Bowl. Joe then went and told the famous “guarantee” story that I had heard so much about. While this is going on, Freeman McNeil is actually sitting with my father and young nephew discussing newly acquired RB Curtis Martin. Joe then stood there for two hours and sign autographs. Took pictures and made some musical requests to me. Giving me a wink every time i played a song he liked. At the time his daughter must have been about 12 or so at the time. She was going through my music and just watching her dad woo the crowd. Every so often Joe would need to take a break. You can see the long day was not great for his knees. But he made sure that each and every person their got to meet him.
After 2 hours or so Joe was finally ending his day. It had started for him beofre 8:00 am in Central Park o a cold rainy day. He then waited for walkers to return to finish line where he thanked them for a while. Got a ride to Staten Island and thanked the people there. Joe and Freeman both could have just stayed in Manhattan. But they both knew what it would mean for fans to meet them.
I don’t care whether your a fan of the Giants, Patriots or Cowboys, Joe Namath is am NFL legend and a big part of the AFL/NFL combination.
I will never forget the day I met the man who won it all for us. I hope that get to see a current QB do it for the NY Jets soon.