If you’re a football fan of a certain era, you probably have strong memories of Joe Namath. During his time with the New York Jets, Broadway Joe lived up to his nickname; he won the Super Bowl, owned a popular nightclub, and became one of pro sports’ biggest stars. In recent years, though, the quarterback has unfortunately made headlines for the wrong reasons.
Ahead of Super Bowl 55, Joe Namath appeared on Fox News’ America’s News HQ. While the interview should have been a softball, full of football cliches and memories of the good old days, the New York Jets legend made an uncomfortable comment about referee Sarah Thomas.
Joe Namath earned a place in Super Bowl history with the New York Jets
Whether it’s fair or not, athletes are defined by how they perform in the biggest moments. Luckily for Joe Namath, he had no problem stepping up in the Super Bowl.
After playing his college ball at Alabama, Namath was drafted by both the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals and the AFL’s New York Jets. He, of course, took the latter offer, signed a massive contract, and headed to the Big Apple; before long, he was christened Broadway Joe and gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated.
While there were some early growing pains, Namath and the Jets eventually turned a corner. They won the 1968 AFL Championship and, in January 1969, met the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl 3.
Although the Jets were viewed as underdogs from the upstart AFL, Namath guaranteed victory then delivered on his promise. He led New York to a 16-7 victory, claiming Super Bowl MVP honors in the process. Not only did he prove that the AFL could hang with the big boys, but he became a New York legend in the process.
While his career numbers might not look that impressive on the whole—Namath struggled with injuries and 62-63-4 in his career, throwing for 27,663 yards and 173 touchdowns—Broadway Joe earned his place in sports history.
Infamously trying to kiss Suzy Kolber
During his playing career, Joe Namath had a reputation as being somewhat of a playboy. Old habits, however, seem to die hard.
In 2003, ESPN’s Suzy Kolber conducted a sideline interview with Namath. While the topic at hand was the Jets’ ineptitude, Broadway Joe wasn’t interested in talking football. “I want to kiss you,” the quarterback infamously said. “I couldn’t care less about the team struggling, and I want to kiss you.”
Namath later apologized and, as explained in his biography, came to saw the incident as a “blessing in disguise.” While he was embarrassed by his behavior, it ended up inspiring him to get help.
“That shame is where I found my strength to deal with the addiction,” Namath explained. “With the help of my recovery, I learned that I had used my divorce as an excuse to go back to drinking. That knowledge made me a stronger individual.”
Joe Namath made another uncomfortable comment, this time about Sarah Thomas
During Super Bowl 55, Sarah Thomas made history as the first woman to ever officiate the big game. Joe Namath’s comments, however, serve as a reminder of just how far we still have to go in terms of gender equality.
Appearing on Fox News’ America’s News HQ ahead of the Super Bowl, Namath was asked if Thomas making history was “awesome.” His response, however, took a turn for the worst.
“Oh, I’d be getting up close to her out there on that field, you know. Try to make a deal with her,” Namath said, as seen in the Fox News clip. He then went on to explain that Thomas’ Super Bowl appearance was awesome and that his older sister was a talented athlete in her own right. “Let’s treat everyone with respect, regardless of gender, please, and color,” he added.
It’s safe to assume, though, that Joe Namath wouldn’t be planning on “getting up close” to a male official. Maybe the quarterback should pay more attention to his own advice in the future and treat everyone, including Sarah Tomas, with respect.
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