‘Broadway’ Joe Namath Goes All the Way With New Book, Talks Jets and Their Fans
New York Jets Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath tells all in his autobiography 50 years after his infamous guaranteed Super Bowl victory against the Baltimore Colts.
At 75 years old, Namath had a simple answer to why he wanted to write his book that brought a lot of emotions in him to light.
“People,” Namath said. “I was approached by the publisher with interest in doing a book because of the anniversary [of the 1969 Super Bowl win]. We started working on this over a year ago and it was a difficult job, time consuming, emotional, and frustrating.”
Like football, All The Way has had a positive response from critics and fans, took a team effort. At times it was his former football squad that helped him write it.
“There was a lot of things that went on in finalizing it and putting it together to get it finished,” Namath said. “I didn’t do it alone first of all, I had input from former teammates, reliving things with them to try to explain the game itself and the championship, how my life was influenced, and the incidents that occurred. My daughter Jessica was a right-hand teammate whenever I got so frustrated with what was happening and how it was coming out on the page. It was difficult.”
Namath is a football legend, a man who had it all, but like most had his demons. Dealing with alcoholism, it took a toll on his life after his career and it all came to a head in a sideline interview 15 years ago. Since that night, he said he has not touched a drink and hopes that anyone struggling can find solace in the words he writes about tackling the disease.
“I hope that it encourages anyone that has dealt with difficult emotions, addictions, and loneliness,” Namath said. “We need one another, sounds corny to some people who don’t understand but life in general is a team effort. I mean if you’re alone, who do you share the good times with or the tough times? How do you get help that we all need from time to time? Life’s about making contact, having contact with positive energy and positive people and being positive yourself.”
The 1969 Super Bowl MVP hopes his message reaches the people that may have watched him play as well as younger fans who have trouble finding positivity in life.
“We all get negative attitudes from time to time when we get knocked down and it’s frustrating,” Namath said. “I try to be positive and teach especially not just the younger readers, but even the adults, ‘Don’t give up, DO NOT GIVE UP, you’ve gotta stay strong and try and try again and if you believe you can do it, you can’ I believe it’s healthy to be positive and I try to explain that in the book.”
Namath is still a Jets fan, more so of the people in the stands, or the ones just walking down the New York and New Jersey streets.
“I respect people and that starts at home and that’s helped me throughout my life,” Namath said. “I don’t know of a situation that comes up or has come up where I met someone that I didn’t start respecting them right off, I don’t care if he’s a guy holding a hat with some pencils, I talk to him, I respect him, I feel and am empathetic. Somebody walks up to you and you don’t know em, you make contact with em, you look in the eyes, you see a smile and them feeling a good vibe and I get a good vibe. People have helped me live a happy, healthy life.”
The people that Namath has met, remember the three New York teams [Jets, Knicks, Mets] who won championships the same year like they all played yesterday. Even when the Jets are not doing well, he says there is no other fanbase like the ones in East Rutherford and across the bridge.
“Ownership changes, coaches change, players change, but our Jet fans have been loyal,” Namath said. “They have started out from ’63 from both sides of the river whether it’s New York, New Jersey, Upstate, where ever, there are Jet fans all over the country and I’m a Jet fan of the Jet fans no doubt.”
But that does not mean he is not a big fan of the team himself that wants them to win their first championship since he was quarterback. Not just for him, but for the patient Gang Green fans. He is also a big fan of his college alma mater.
“I want the team to win because I want the gratification, the feeling of having done it for the fans of the Jets as well as the team,” Namath said. “These cats, I don’t have any sympathy so to speak for a team that doesn’t perform well, but I do know the fans go through some suffering and the Jet fans have for a long time, I’m [also] an Alabama fan and those are the two teams when things don’t go well, I think more about it than not. The players I want them to earn it.”
One of the players he wants to earn it, is sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold. He is impressed by the young man and sees a little of himself in him.
“I see a good passer in Sam Darnold and I’ve been watching him since he was at Southern Cal and he was impressive then,” Namath said. “I know from what’s transpired with the Jets and Sam that it’s all been positive, I’ve been fortunate to meet him a couple of times, we talk a little bit, but what his players and coaches have had to say about him publicly and privately to me is positive, he’s a workhorse, he’s a team man, he’s got the physical and mental ability to excel.”
New York itself still holds a special place in Namath as a unique city for its people and its spirit.
“New York is still one of a kind to me and the people in the Metropolitan area are a different breed,” Namath said. “There’s a different energy, [it is] more energetic, these people expect the best and when you give it to them they’ll honor that and it endures.”
One question that fans may still have. Does Namath still have his iconic fur coat?
“Oh yeah,” Namath laughed. ” I live in Florida, I rarely wear them, one of my favorites at one time actually the only one I treated myself to when I was a bachelor that I bought myself as a Christmas present. I ended up donating one to the boy scouts and girl scouts in New Jersey at a dinner one night, and it hit me that we were raising some funds for the girl scouts and boy scouts over there and I thought it was a good donation item. The one I did get myself is somewhere else but the ones I have around I respect them, I’ve worn them with good feelings, but those were laid on me by the generosity of some folks.”