Even football fans born after his infamous Super Bowl promise know New York Jets legend Joe Namath as an eccentric figure.
Namath inspired the playboy quarterback trope during his playing days that every piece of fiction has tried adapting. Namath is arguably the best quarterback in New York Jets history, a title that Trevor Lawrence likely won’t have a spot at challenging over the next decade.
However, Namath’s legacy could be on the line. A recent radio segment on WFAN in New York included an allegation that Namath threw a game that he played in and ensuring the Jets lost so he could win a bet.
Joe Namath is an iconic NFL figure
Like many quarterbacks of his era, Joe Namath’s statistics don’t pop off the page.
In 13 NFL seasons, Namath completed 50.1% of his passes for 27,663 yards, 173 touchdowns, and 220 touchdowns. Namath turned over the ball at a high rate and only had one season, his rookie year in 1965, where he threw more touchdowns than interceptions.
Namath’s impact on football history, primarily leading the New York Jets to a Super Bowl upset over the Indianapolis Colts in January 1969, speaks for itself and is a large part of why he is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Unfortunately for Jets fans, that remains the only time the Jets have even made the Big Game through the 2020 season.
Namath has been linked to a recent gambling conspiracy
Joe Namath was always an eccentric and popular figure; the type of player who loved the spotlight and what life in New York City brought him.
Namath’s partying and love of fun helped make him one of the NFL’s greatest figures. However, a random radio caller may have laid the framework to damage Namath’s reputation and legacy.
During the December 23 episode of Carton & Roberts on WFAN in New York, a caller suggested Namath threw a game in the 1970s. The caller, who worked as a math teacher and limousine driver, shared that he had information that Namath intentionally played poorly in a loss to the rival New England Patriots for gambling reasons.
During the segment, the caller recalled driving Namath and members of the New York Sack Exchange — the Jets’ fearsome defensive line from the 1980s — in his car. At one point, the caller asked one of the defensive players if Namath had ever bet on a game.
“The guy looked me and said, ‘I really couldn’t answer that,” he said.
However, the caller said he had been told that Namath bet on a game between the Jets and Patriots. Namath played in the game, the guest said, and “it was very obvious” that he didn’t play well so he could fix the game.
The caller also suggested that Knicks legend Patrick Ewing has been blackballed from ever coaching in the NBA because of his off-court behavior. Ewing is now the head men’s basketball coach at Georgetown.
Co-hosts Craig Carton and Evan Roberts each were skeptical of the caller’s case. Then came the show’s extensive research…
Is it possible that Joe Namath actually threw the game?
Joe Namath isn’t the first athlete linked to a gambling conspiracy, and he won’t be the last.
However, a 1976 game against the New England Patriots could lend credibility to the theory. Namath threw five interceptions in a 38-24 loss to the Patriots on Nov. 21, 1976.
Backup quarterback Richard Todd threw another interception; the Jets also fumbled three times that day.
There have been some strange gambling conspiracies over the years. Namath hasn’t publicly commented on the allegations that he threw a game, but he might want to address this theory sooner rather than later.