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| Joe Namath |
Birthday: 31 May 1943
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The son of a steel worker from Beaver Falls, Pa., Joseph William
Namath (Joe Willie) came from the rich football tradition that is
in Pennsylvania. After starring for Paul "Bear" Bryant's Alabaman
Crimson Tide teams in the 1960s, Namath was drafted both the
National Football League's (NFL) St. Louis Cardinals and the rival
American Football League's (AFL) New York Jets in 1965. Namath,
known as a brash performer in college, signed with the Jets for a
then-record $450,000 and gave the upstart, struggling AFL instant
credibility in its war with the NFL. Although he didn't turn the
Jets into instant winners, he did improve their fortunes his first
three years in the league. Namath delivered on his promise as one
of the most exciting players in the AFL, by becoming the first
quarterback in history to pass for more than 4,000 yards. Namath
was also popular off the field, especially with the ladies (which
he indulged in happily) and was known for his love of the New York
nightlife. Because of this he was dubbed "Broadway Joe" by the New
York press. Namath gained his legend with not only his perfomance,
but his mouth. After leading the Jets to the AFL championship over
the Oakland Raiders, Namath, weary of all the press knocking him
and his team and openly favoring the NFL champion Baltimore Colts,
boldly lashed out and predicted victory for him and the Jets. He
also showed his poise by talking his way out of a potentially
explosive situation with Colts Defensive Tackle, Lou Michaels.
Namath and a teammate were in a restaurant talking about how the
Jets were a better team than the Colts, when Michaels (who was in
earshot) challenged Namath. The cocky QB instead bought Michaels
dinner, drinks and gave him a ride home. In the game that many felt
made the Super Bowl the spectacle it is today, Namath and the Jets
were nearly flawless in beating the 17-point favorite Colts, 16-7.
Namath became a household name and gave the Jets and the AFL the
respectability they were so desperate to have. Namath continued his
all-star performances in New York, although he never again played
in the Super Bowl. For several years he was the entertainer of the
NFL (the AFL merged with the NFL in 1970) and even dabbled in
movies and television (including a memorable performance in
pantyhose for a commercial). He was traded to the Los Angeles Rams
in 1977, but his failing knees finally gave out and he retired at
the end of the season. Namath was elected to the Pro Football Hall
of Fame in 1985, and for a few years was a member of ABC's Monday
Night Football crew. Namath now lives in Florida.
Biography courtesy of the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com).
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