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Joe Namath Biography

The College Years, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments, Instant Celebrity, Highs And Lows, The Guarantee And Super Bowl Iii


American football player

Joe Namath's bold guarantee before Super Bowl III made him an instant legend in the world of professional

Joe Namath

football, but it was his glamorous image off the field that made him a celebrity and an icon to the rest of the world. In the sporting world of the 1960's, Namath represented the counterculture in a way that no athlete had before. While some athletes used their platform to advance their political views, such as Muhammad Ali, Namath seemed disinterested in playing any role other than the one that earned him the nickname, "Broadway Joe." His love of the nightlife and women brought youth culture to the normally conservative world of football. Starring for the New York Jets, owned by entertainment mogul Sonny Werblin, Namath indulged in the high life and made no excuses for his behavior. His celebrity lifestyle, however, never seemed to interfere with his performance on the field and was the reason his actions were not only tolerated, but celebrated. His guarantee of victory over the Baltimore Colts in the third Super Bowl helped make the game the media event that it continues to be today. It also helped secure the reputation of the competing AFL, which was considered inferior to its rival league the NFL, and proved a victory for underdogs all over the country.

Born Joseph William Namath on May 31, 1943, in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, he was the youngest of five children. His parents divorced when he was in the sixth grade and because of a lack of money the athletically gifted child learned to hustle to get by. Namath had little interest in going to college and was set on following his brother into a military career. His mother's wish that her son get an education along with the fifty-two offers he received from colleges desiring his passing skills, however, would ultimately determine his fate. Namath decided to go to Maryland, but failed to score high enough on the college board exams, so settled in at the University of Alabama, where he played for legendary coach Bear Bryant. Bryant would later call Namath, "the greatest athlete I have ever coached."

Sketch by Aric Karpinski

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsFootball