(Long Island, N.Y.) The New York Jets were one win away from representing the AFC in Super Bowl XVIV, have ESPN cameras everywhere filming “Hard Knocks,” and have multiple Pro Bowl players on both sides of the ball. Even with all of those positives, a 67-year-old guy who last wore a Jet jersey in combat back in 1976 stole all the thunder from the present team.
That shouldn’t be a surprise when “Broadway” Joe Namath is in town, as he was on Thursday at Jets training camp in Cortland, New York. Even 100 years from now, he will always be the face of the franchise. Namath led them to their first and only title in Super Bowl III.
“I new it was big time,” he recalled of that victory. “I knew it was more meaningful for us because we were representing the American Football League and we (the AFL) had lost two in a row (in the Super Bowl).”
That 16-7 win over the Baltimore Colts is still considered the biggest upset in Super Bowl history and the game that made the merger of the two leagues a much easier transition. “We weren’t looking to lose, we were looking to win, and we did,” added Namath.
Although Namath admitted that he never thought that it would be 41 years and counting between Super Bowls for his old team, the Alabama product believes in the current group to have a legitimate shot to change that.
“The team that I’m looking at today is more suited to be able to follow through with the championship,” he said. “”I don’t remember a team that we’ve had this kind of defense coming off a season this defense played.”
One player that was a huge component of that defense that led the NFL in 2009 is Darrelle Revis, the All-Pro cornerback who is holding out of camp for a renegotiated contract.
“I’m confident that he’s going to be here,” said Namath. “I know (team owner Woody) Mr. Johnson wants him. I know (head coach) Rex Ryan wants him. We all want him here.”
What the outcome is with Revis remains to be seen, but speaking of the players who are present in camp was the main focus of Namath’s visit. Quarterback to quarterback, the Hall of Famer likes what he sees in Mark Sanchez.
“From Day One, I never gave Sanchez any advice,” he said. “He doesn’t need any. He comes from a tremendous background with his family and getting his work ethic together. He won the team over as far as his position as a leader on the team because he works so hard. The man wants to win.”
With Ryan leading the way, the Jets are a team that has plenty of self-confidence and that went a long way in making them believe in themselves a year ago. That is definitely something that Namath can relate to, but also sees the differences from his day.
“They have more swagger than we had,” he said. “This team is out there more. It’s a reflection of Rex and his style. Rex has a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of confidence. Being able to win is the only thing that continues that kind of confidence.”
Sort of like guaranteeing an unlikely Super Bowl win.