WESTOVER -- To some, Super Bowl III goes down in sports history as one the greatest football games ever played. In 1968, the New York Jets became the first AFL squad to beat a team from the more dominant NFL. On top of that, the legend of Joe Namath's guaranteed victory over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts propels the story into folklore status.
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore remembers the game for different reasons, however, since it contained a Super Bowl record five former Hawk football players on the field.
Two of those five were back on Delmarva recently to play in the Art Shell UMES Celebrity Golf Tournament at Great Hope Golf Course in Westover. For seven straight seasons, four in college and three on the New York Jets, Emerson Boozer and Earl Christy played football together.
For both of them, having a former teammate to help with the transition from the country to the city made the experience much easier.
"I played longer with Emerson than anybody at Maryland Eastern Shore," Christy said. "It was phenomenal. I come from a small town and then to go to New York -- the biggest city in America. Yes, it was great. We even found our apartments in the same place."
Along with Christy and Boozer, Johnny Sample and Sherman Plunkett were two other UMES grads who were on the Jets in 1966. Boozer used the opportunity of being on a new team with old friends as a chance to grow as a player.
"It was a great experience for me," Boozer said. "I had Earl there to hang out with and study with, and I had Sample and Plunkett to learn from and ask advice from. It was like having the best of both worlds"
Along with being friends, the two football players have respect for each other's game. In particular, Christy was on the team when Boozer was on pace to break the record for total touchdowns in a single season during his injury-plagued sophomore campaign.
"I remember when Boozer had 13 touchdowns in 8 games," Christy said. "He would have shattered the record if he didn't blow his knee out."
Boozer remembers Christy for his speed and his exceptional skill as a kick and punt returner.
"We both used to do kick returns together at practice," Boozer said. "He was quick -- much quicker than me."
Boozer and Christy gained a lot of confidence from each other, and it was that confidence that helped drive the Jets to their sole Super Bowl victory. As Christy remembers, a friendly bout of cards before the big game with Colts players Charlie Stukes and Jim Duncan, who were also UMES alums, in which the members of the rival team began bragging about their sure-victory did nothing to scare their opponent.
"We weren't scared because we all played together at UMES," Christy said. "And Boozer and I used to whoop up on them in college, so we felt like we were going to win the game! And of course Joe (Namath) guaranteed the victory."
Even though Boozer and Christy performed and won on the highest level, the thought of what could have been with their strong teams they played on at UMES lingers.
"We had some pretty good clubs, but we could never put together a winning streak long enough to capture the CIAA title," Boozer said of their college teams. "We would always end up losing two games or more per season -- which we had to go pretty much undefeated to win the conference. You lose one or two, you could forget about winning it all."
Even without a championship, the two teammataes and friends still look back on their UMES days with pride.
"That's what it's all about," Christy said. "Coming back in fellowship with all the guys."
Interview with Jets Great Wesley Walker , Part II
Jun 24th, 2012
TJP-How about somebody you could torch ?
Somebody you saw coming up on the schedule and you knew that you and Kenny (OíBrien) could light him up ?
WW-I would feel that way with any game. Lester Hayes was in the Hall of Fame, you know, and I welcomed that(the competition). A lot of times people just feared my speed but, there wasnít anybody I didnít fear, itís just that I knew what we could do as a team, and on the gameplan, and I just hoped that we could run the plays that the defense dictated and how we could be successful. I just remember one year, my offensive coordinator and receivers coach took a suggestion by me, they put it in practice, we worked on it, and put it in the game, and the next thing I knew I had 110 yards in the first half against Houston. I was really surpassing my All Pro year in 78, and I was actually averaging 24.4, and the follwoing year I was averaging 25.7 I was having this great run until I got hurt in that particular game and was out for the season. Probably the biggest thing against me was my health.
TJP-I am curious to what you think about Rex and the current teamÖ
WW-I like Rex. I think right now though, you know, he does well with the media because heís , heíll give you a sound bite and he can talk and heís very entertaining and thatís good. As far as the celebrations like Santonio Holmes, I just donít go for that. Iím to the point now, enough talk, just play the game. They definitely have to get back on board, because they have lost that emphasis on the defensive part of the game. I think heís a great coach, and itís a team sport. Injuries are a big factor. You have to be on the same page as a whole. There canít be any in-fighting. People donít know how hard it is to have people stay healthy on every phase of the ball. You lose two, three guys, whether itís on offense or defense, it could kill you. So I do have confidence in RexÖ.I just hope that ..even with Tim Tebow, puts a fire under Sanchez, heís definitely got to get better. Heís got to move, or make some kind of progress, otherwise itís gonna be the same thing.
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