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Broadway Joe Namath (see cover) is the folk hero of the new generation. He is long hair, a Fu Manchu mustache worth $10,000 to shave off, swinging nights in the live spots of the big city, the dream lover of the stewardi—all that spells insouciant youth in the Jet Age.
Besides all that, Namath is a superb quarterback who in the Super Bowl last week proved that his talent is as big as his mouth—which makes it a very big talent, indeed. He went from Broadway Joe to Super Joe on a cloud-covered afternoon in Miami, whipping the Baltimore Colts, champions of the National Football League, 16-7 in the process.
Almost no one thought the New York Jets could penetrate the fine Baltimore defense, but Namath was sure of it and said so. "We're a better team than Baltimore," he said before the game. He was lying by the pool at the Gait Ocean Mile Hotel, where the Jets stayed, tanned and oiled against the sun. Namath reminds you a bit of Dean Martin in his relaxed confidence and in the droop of his heavy-lidded eyes. He is a man of immense self-assurance and, as he showed early in the week, a man of startling honesty.
" Earl Morrall would be third-string quarterback on the Jets," he said. "There are maybe five or six better quarterbacks than Morrall in the AFL."
It was called loudmouthing, bragging, but as it turned out, Super Joe told it the way it was. In a surpassing display of passing accuracy and mental agility, he picked the Colt defense apart. Then, with a comfortable 16-0 lead, he prudently relied upon a surprisingly strong running game through most of the fourth quarter to protect that lead. He read the puzzling Colt defenses as easily as if they had been printed in comic books, and the Colt blitz, a fearsome thing during the regular NFL season, only provided Namath with the opportunity to complete key passes.
"We want them to blitz," Jet Coach Weeb Ewbank had said before the game. "Joe reads the blitz real well. We like blitzing teams." When it was over, Namath said, "I'll tell you one thing. No champagne in the dressing room of the world champions is a ridiculous thing. Of course, I've never been here before."
Having embellished his image a bit, he went on to more serious things. "Do I regret what I said before the game?" he asked rhetorically. "No, I meant every word of it. I never thought there was any question about our moving against their 'great' defense. I'm sorry that Don Shula took what I said about Morrall as a rap. I only meant it as a statement of fact."
"Can you go over your emotions now?" someone asked him, and Namath thought for a moment. "No," he said. "That would take too much time and too much thinking. I'd rather just enjoy it."
Aside from the virtuoso performance by Namath, the Jet victory was built on an exceptionally strong performance from an offensive line that has protected Namath like the palace guard all year, dogged, insistent running by Fullback Matt Snell and an inspired performance by the supposedly weak Jet secondary.
The Joe Namath of the defensive troops was elderly Johnny Sample, who once played for Baltimore and who had the difficult task of guarding the Colts' Willie Richardson. "We can win," Sample said before the game. "I've been waiting three years for this. The National Football League blackballed me and took the bread off my table."