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Joe Namath Football Career

February 5, 2012 by staff 

Joe Namath Football Career, Joseph William “Joe” Namath ( born May 31, 1943), nicknamed “Broadway Joe” or “Joe Willie”, is a former American football quarterback. He played college football for the University of Alabama under coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and his assistant, Howard Schnellenberger, from 1962-1964, and professional football in the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (NFL) during the 1960s and 1970s.

Namath was an American Football League icon and played for that league’s New York Jets for most of his professional career but finished his career with the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1985.

Namath retired after playing in 140 games: 62 wins, 63 losses and 4 ties. In his career he threw 173 touchdowns, 220 interceptions, and completed 1,886 passes for 27,663 yards. During his thirteen years in the AFL and NFL he played for three division champions (the 1968 and 1969 AFL East Champion Jets and the 1977 NFC West Champion Rams), earned one league championship (1968 AFL Championship), and one Super Bowl victory (Super Bowl III).

In 1999, he was ranked number 96 on The Sporting News’ list of the The Sporting News – 100 Greatest Football Players. He was the only player on the list to have spent a majority of his career with the Jets.

He is perhaps best known for boldly guaranteeing a Jets’ victory over Don Shula’s NFL Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III (1969) and then making good on his prediction.

Despite suffering a serious knee injury in his senior year at Alabama, Namath was drafted by both the National Football League and the upstart American Football League. The two competing leagues held their respective drafts on the same day-November 28, 1964.

The NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals selected Namath 12th overall in their draft, while the Jets selected him with the AFL’s first overall pick. He elected to sign with the Jets, who were under the direction of Hall of Fame owner Sonny Werblin, for a salary of $427,000 (a pro football record at the time) and never put on a Cardinals uniform.

Namath was the American Football League Rookie of the year in 1965 and became the first professional quarterback to pass for 4,000 yards in a season (1967) when he threw for 4,007 yards. This was a feat that remained a record for the 14-game seasons that were played during that time.

He was a four-time American Football League All-Star, in 1965, 1967, 1968, and 1969, although he was plagued with knee injuries through much of his career and underwent four pioneering knee operations by Dr. James A. Nicholas. On some occasions, Namath had to have his knee drained at halftime so that he could finish a game. Later in life, long after he left football, he had to have knee replacement surgery on both legs.

In the 1968 AFL title game, Namath threw three touchdown passes to lead New York to a 27-23 win over the defending American Football League Champion Oakland Raiders. His performance in the 1968 season earned him the Hickok Belt as top professional athlete of the year. He was an AFC-NFC Pro Bowler in 1972. Besides having the Hall of Fame distinction, he is a member of the Jets’ all-time team and the American Football League All-Time Team.

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