No Ordinary Joe -
Namath offers hope, not guarantees

By Kevin Newell
Jets Head Writer
July 1st, 2003
Joe Namath: Back on Broadway where he belongs.
Joe Namath: Back on Broadway where he belongs.
NEW YORK - Broadway Joe was back on Broadway last week talking up the Jets and doing what he does best since putting down a football almost 30 years ago - working the room.

Joe Namath was brought out of mothballs by Woody Johnson, Jay Cross, and the rest of the New York Jets organization to serve in the capacity of something called, Ambassador-at-Large. Whatever that means.

Interestingly enough, that was the same title, albeit unofficial, Namath had back in the 60s and 70s, except he was entertaining buxom blondes and sultry brunettes in his bachelor pad or his Manhattan nightclub, Bachelor's III. Not trying to curry favor with the Big Apple powers-that-be who have the final say on a proposed West Side stadium.

No, this wasn't Namath hawking Noxzema shaving cream or Beauty Mist panty hose. This was the greatest living New York football legend being a pitchman and point-man to help get the Jets out of Jersey and into their very own state-of-the-art gridiron palace.

"Today, we are looking for big things to happen in the future," said Namath. "I really believe this Jets' organization has a clear vision...these guys are not only out there to win a championship, but also to bring our team back here home to New York City. And I believe we are going to do that."

As the words rolled off Namath's tongue, addressing the throng in the Renaissance New York Hotel, you almost wanted to steal a cement truck and start pouring concrete on the West Side Rail Yard tracks. Broadway Joe has a way of making you believe anything and everything is possible.

After all, he did guarantee victory in Super Bowl III. So how can a few politicians and pundits possibly stand in the way of a new stadium? Michael Bloomberg isn't as menacing as Bubba Smith. George Pataki is no Don Shula.

I can understand why the new Jets regime has called on Namath in their time of need. No person or player is more synonymous with the green and white than Joe Willie. He is as close to football royalty as this town has seen. And no one loves the Jets more than No. 12. He'll run through a retractable roof to get the deal done.

What I don't like is the organization's premise and timing for announcing Namath's return. First, in my eyes, he never left. He was cast aside. A relic from a distant past.

It's as if the Jets placed Namath in of those cases that says, "Break Glass Only In The Event Of An Emergency."

Where has he been since the organization retired his number at halftime of the Oct. 14, 1985 Monday Night Game against the Dolphins? Except for a few preseason football telecasts, his presence has been minimal at best.

The irony of the day was not lost on the fact that the Jets, so desperate to flee Giants Stadium, have turned to the greatest clutch performer in team history.

"Joe is symbolic of our past and will play a key role in our future," said Cross.

Joe Willie is back under center; the clock is ticking, game on the line. He's calling signals once again. The knees are creaky, the right arm not as golden. But the determination and heart remain.

If there's a job that needs to be done, Namath will complete the task. He doesn't know any other way.

"You don't feel the same playing in another team's stadium," said Namath, lording over the New York media as he did in his heyday. "I know the players would feel better playing in their own stadium. We are the Jets - the New York Jets."

Broadway Joe's Jets!

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