NEW YORK TIMES 1969
People talk about Joe Namath. He excites comment. Today he is providing more than ever, because, after an all-America career at the University of Alabama and four years as the quarterback of the Jets, he sits supreme at the top of the hardnosed world of professional football.
Namath, the ultra-publicized individualistic quarterback from Beaver Falls, Pa., today led the Jets to an astounding 16‚7 victory over the Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl game at Miami. He intended to do it and, last week, in preparation for the game, said he would do it. Few believed him. The victory, which elevated the American League to an equal level with the older National League, marks the high point of Namath’s success-studded career.
“What we like about him is that he’s a winner, he doesn’t know about losing,” commented Weeb Ewbank, the coach of the Jets, a few season ago.
Sonny Werblin, the former owner of the Jets, who signed Namath for a bonus of $387,000 and a Lincoln convertible, found another quality in Namath that he thought valuable. He said, on signing the sleepily handsome 6-foot-2-inch black-haired star: “Namath has the presence of a star. You know how a real star lights up a room when he comes in? Joe has that quality.”
Namath, who sparkled on the football field for Beaver Falls High School and at Alabama, has become a legendary figure since moving to New York in 1965. His penthouse apartment at 76th and First Avenue, with its famous white llama rug, is often the scene of get-togethers and parties. (“A get-together is when the guys come over to eat steaks and play cards; a party is when there are girls,” he said.) Namath has pursued pleasure in the saloons and discotheques of the East Side, often in the company of beautiful young women. During one early-morning jaunt, he allegedly had a dispute with a sportswriter that is still awaiting legal adjudication.
Joseph William Namath, the fifth child of a Hungarian steelworker, was born in Beaver Falls on May 31, 1943, and started playing football with three older brothers when he was hardly able to hold the football. After a splendid career in high school, he was offered scholarships by 52 colleges and universities. He also was offered $50,000 to play baseball with the Chicago Cubs.
Under Paul (Bear) Bryant, Namath developed into one of the most sought-after passers in college football. Bryant called him “the greatest athlete I ever coached.”