Joe NamathHe goes by Joe Namath, Broadway Joe or Joe Willie.

Whatever you prefer to call him, it is without a doubt that Joe Namath is the most famous New York Jet in the history of the franchise.

Namath embraced the spotlight as a professional football player in the Big Apple and his charisma drew fans from all types of backgrounds, making him a perfect fit for the New York Jets.

After his bold yet intoxicated prediction to win Super Bowl III, Namath led the underdog New York Jets to victory over the "greatest football team in history", the Baltimore Colts.

That win would turn out to be the only Super Bowl title for the Jets to date. 

As a player, Namath played the game with heart and passion. Often times, Namath played the game through pain and injury because of his dedication to his teammates and coaches.

With the Super Bowl win in 1969 legitimizing the American Football League, Namath would go down as the AFL's greatest and most influential player in its short history.

As pro football's first media superstar, and his status as the AFL's greatest player, Namath is forever associated with being a major influence on the eventual AFL/NFL merger.

Statistically however, Namath's career stats aren't consistent with other Hall of Fame quarterbacks and if anything, are mediocre to say the least. To be fair, the game was different in the 60s but you cannot not argue wins and losses.

Career totals:

Wins/Losses/Ties - 62-63-4 / Completion rate - 50.1%  / TD/INT - 173/220 / QB Rating - 65.5% 

Namath was the first quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in 1967 which is still a pretty decent number by today's standards, but his career numbers do not validate his status as a member of the Hall of Fame.

Based on his career numbers and personal issues alone, one would think that Namath would be more humble and at the very least, less critical of other players and the franchise he played for.  

Off the field, Namath's public battle with alcohol addiction has plagued him since his playing days. See his interview on Monday Night Football in 2003 with Suzy Kolber for reference.

The Jets however, have always overlooked Namath's personal demons and continued to support their legend regardless of the drama that surrounded him.

Fast-forward to more recent times and Namath still remains the icon and symbol of New York Jets' football. He is often referred to by the media for his thoughts on the team's performance or for his opinion on personnel decisions.

Unfortunately, more often than not, Namath manages to find a way to blast the team that made him famous. The Jets continue to support Namath after his career has long ended despite the controversial comments he has made about the franchise and its management in recent years.

Broadway Joe has made it quite obvious that he does not support the addition of Tim Tebow and claims that the Jets are simply seeking back page headlines.

He has not wavered in his criticism of the team he is supposed to be supporting and doesn't seem to care that the franchise still holds him in high regard, in public at least.

Namath is entitled to his opinion as all fans are. The difference is, Namath is not a regular Jets' fan. He is supposed to be the former Jet all current players and fans look up to. He simply cannot be so overly critical of the team in public forums.

The truth hurts obviously, and Namath is not always wrong in his criticism. He just has to learn what being politically correct is all about when referring to his beloved Jets. Especially because the team continues to tout him as the all-time franchise player.

Jets owner Woody Johnson and head coach Rex Ryan, cannot be happy with Namath's recent critiques of the franchise but mainly keep quiet on the issue. Namath has touched too many hearts for the Jets' owner and head coach to publicly respond to those comments and risk a backlash from fans.

Former Jet and current Hall of Fame member, Curtis Martin, is without question the heir apparent to Namath as the franchise icon and rightfully so. Martin has the numbers on the field and is humble enough to state his opinions positive or negative, in the proper forum.

Only knock on Martin, he never won a Super Bowl.

For a franchise that has been deprived of success for much of its existence, Broadway Joe Namath was the only player to lead the team to the promised land that is the Super Bowl. That is a fact.

Namath obviously cares about the Jets. He probably cares too much. The former Super Bowl MVP has to realize that as the face of New York Jets history, he has to be slightly less critical of the team, in public at least.

 

Sonny Burgo

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