The College Years
His quarterbacking skills were so great while at Alabama that coach Bryant eventually changed his offense to accommodate his star player during Namath's sophomore year. Things did not always go as smoothly for the handsome college football star, being benched for two games for directing traffic while intoxicated was one such incident. His reputation for hijinks, however, would be quickly erased when he returned to take his team to the 1964 national championship. The injuries he would endure during his college days would continue to plague him throughout his professional career and would lead him to later claim that he left his game in college.
Coming out of Alabama with a reputation and a freshly repaired knee, Namath was far from a sure thing. He was drafted by both the St. Louis Cardinals of the NFL and the New York Titans of the AFL. In New York, the team had a new owner and soon a new name, the New York Jets. The offer he received set records and proved too much to turn down. Owner Sonny Werblin gave Namath a contract worth $427,000, which led to legendary Green Bay Packers' coach Vince Lombardi's public outrage. This not only signaled the arrival of a new star but also an escalation in the amount professional athletes could demand. In addition to his salary, Namath was rewarded with a number of lavish bonuses and jobs for his brothers.