The coolest athlete to ever walk the planet.
Joe Namath was a stud athlete from Beaver Falls, PA . After graduating high school in 1961, he received offers from six major league baseball teams, but decided to play football at the Univ. of Alabama because his mother wanted him to receive a college education.
He received his college degree in 2007.
After playing under legendary coach, Paul "Bear" Bryant, Joe was selected with the first pick of the 1965 AFL draft. He was also selected with the 12th pick of the NFL draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. At the time, choosing to play in the AFL rather than the NFL was like choosing to play for the Detroit Lions rather than a professional sports team.
Joe signed with the NY Jets in 1965 for a recording setting $427,000. If you take into account inflation, that would be like paying current NY Jets rookie Mark Sanchez $3.5 billion a game.
Despite playing on a pair of knees that were shakier than jello on Michael J. Fox's lunch tray, Joe went on to win the AFL Rookie of the Year in 1965, and in 1967 became the first player to throw for more than 4,000 yards in a season. But it wasn't until the 1968 season that his career became legend....wait for it....ary.
By winning the AFL championship in 1968, the NY Jets were heading to Super Bowl III to face the highly favored Baltimore Colts. Not only were the Colts favored by 22 points, but the beatdown of the Jets would prove once and for all that the AFL was not worthy of merging with the superior NFL. Some members of the NFL said the game "would be Namath's first professional football game."
To make matters interesting, Namath would be facing his boyhood idol, Johnny Unitas.
It was the classic old school vs. the young upstarts. Crew cuts vs. hippies. Black hightops vs. white shoes. Missionary position with the lights off while listening to Andy Williams vs. reverse cowgirl on the patio while blasting Jimi Hendrix.
But Namath was not intimidated. At a press conference three days before the big game, Joe was being heckled by fans of the Colts. He pointed to a fan's wife and said, "I'll bang that dame. I guarantee you." Members of the press misquoted him as saying "We'll win the game. I guarantee you."
The NY Jets pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of sports. They beat the Colts 16-7 and Joe Namath was named the MVP. Not only did he prove that the AFL was a league to be reckoned with, and the victory resulted in the leagues merging, but he also knocked the bottom out of that Colt's fans wife at the post-game celebration.
Without Joe Namath we wouldn't have Michael Jordan shilling t-shirts or Tiger Woods hocking Gatorade. Joe made it cool for athletes to be pitchmen. He was an old-fashioned tough guy and a new-fangled hustler. He could get pounded all Sunday by the Oakland Raiders and still pull off the pretty boy.
Pay me $10,000 to shave my moustache? Sure. Chad Pennington couldn't even grow a Fu Manchu, let alone get somebody to pay him to shave it off.
Work with an unknown actress in a shave cream commercial? As long as this stuff won't cause anal cancer, I'm your man.
Namath sold shirts for Arrow, popcorn poppers for Hamilton Beach, recliners by La-Z-Boy and even signed a 20-year, $250,000 per year deal with Faberge! How many bottles of Brute do they have to sell at CVS every year to pay that off?
Joe's most famous commerical was for pantyhose, and proved to the world that he liked getting paid more than he cared about any kind of backlash. Do you really think Tom Brady has the balls to do a Massengill Douche commercial? Get the fuck out of here.....he's too busy picking up Giselle's drycleaning.
How cool was Joe Namath? During the height of his career, Joe owned a bar called Bachelor's III. It was 1969, the sexual revolution was taking hold, and cool places advertised with phrases like "stewardesses are welcome." For you youngsters out there, there was a time when stewardesses were the hottest of the hot. They had weekly weigh-ins, wore killer outfits and were basically Hooters chicks in the air.
Joe loved the nightlife and drank with a single purpose....to bang hot chicks. Joe became the symbol of a guy going out, having a good time and a few drinks, and ending up with a beautiful girl. Everyone drank, got laid, had birth control pills and everything was groovy. Want to take a picture of Joe groping a girl with a scotch in the other hand. Why not? Joe didn't worry about his image like today's jocks. That WAS his image.
Bachelor's III was Joe's home away from home. Until of course, NFL Commissoner Pete Rozelle got involved.
He demanded that Joe sell his stake in Bachelor's III. Let's face it, any hot bar is going to attract certain unsavory characters. Because NFL contracts state that players must never "associate with notorius persons", Rozelle figured he had Joe by the shorthairs. One can also assume Rozelle never met Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders.
So what did Joe do? Did he cower like a like some punk who got caught dog fighting? Hell, no. Joe announced that he was retiring from the game. The press went bat shit, and the fans went bat shittier. The single biggest star of the NFL was retiring? Can't happen. TV stepped in to discuss what the kind of money the league would be worth without it's greatest star. So to save face, Rozelle worked out a deal where Joe sold his stake in the NY Club, but kept his ownership in future clubs.
The Commissioner of any league holds almost unlimited power, and Joe told him to fuck himself. He'd rather spend his Sunday's liquored up, and up to his eyeballs in hot tail than play your stupid game. Checkmate....
Even after his career had ended, Joe was a popular and charismatic guy. He served one season as an announcer on Monday Night Football, tried his hand at several sitcoms and movies, and even appeared on The Simpsons to discuss the perils of vapor lock.
All the while Joe was still the life of the party, hitting the Vodka regularly and living the life. Until....
In 2003, Joe added a final chapter to his legacy. Joe had been partying with some of his old teammates during a reunion of the NY Jets, and was asked to do an interview. Joe proceeded to hit on reporter Suzy Kolber. Now, I can't blame him because that girl be fine.
Using his patented pickups lines - "I want to pound it in your end zone." "Your backfield in motion makes me want to split the uprights." And "Your redzone defense can't stop me from jamming it in to the tight end" - Joe was on his game. But Joe was no longer the swinging, 30 yr. old bachelor, and a 60 yr. old hitting on such top shelf talent just seemed pathetic.
But let's face it, would you even know who this chick was if it wasn't for Joe? She will always be "that cutie that Namath was trying to kiss when he was wasted."
Universal Pictures is planning to turn the life of Joe Namath into a feature film starring Jake Gyllenhall as Broadway Joe Namath.
Growing up, I always wanted to be Joe Namath. It is certainly a movie I will be anxious to see.
Let's just hope Jake doesn't have any Brokeback Mountain flashbacks and start treating the center like Heath Ledger. Only the hands go under there, my friend.