There are many opinions about why Namath quit, and in Bachelors III last week the theories were as thick as the gloom. Some habitu�s saw his retirement as a classic conflict between the individual and the establishment. "Joe won't let football control his life or dictate how he lives," said a friend. "The Jets learned they had to suggest which plays he should call rather than tell him. They learned to suggest that he stay in camp rather than demand it. Joe won't be a part of the machinery." Another friend said, " Joe Namath is an individualist and he's a genius at what he does. Men like that have got to be treated differently. You've got to let them have some extra room to move."
In Bachelors III, where the jukebox is blaring Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In and the phone never stops ringing and the bell-bottom-and-sideburns crowd keep looking for whatever they hope to find, there is not much opportunity to discuss the ramifications of amorality or the subtleties of the establishment vs. the individual or even the philosophic responsibilities of a team leader.
But on the night that Namath quit, one of his teammates was in Bachelors III—Dave Herman, the offensive guard who has fought off the pass rushers who wanted to break Willie White Shoes in half. "Joe's retirement is a tragedy for football and for the Jets," Herman said, "and, yes, for Dave Herman and my wife and my two kids. Unless we win the Super Bowl again, people'll say it was a fluke. None of us thought we could win. We were the victims of the NFL superiority syndrome. But Joe kept telling us we could win and finally we believed him. Joe won it for us. I doubt we could do it without him. I believe in Joe, and if he told me there's a tiger behind me, I wouldn't look—I'd just jump. But Joe's a man of principle; he'd give it all up—football, everything—for a principle."
Of course, that raised an obvious question concerning Namath's principles in terms of loyalty to his team and allegiance to the sport that has so richly rewarded him. "There's a conflict of principles there, I suppose," Herman said. "He owes his greatest obligation to himself, I suppose."
Shortly before one a.m., the whispers began along the bar. "He's here...." And he was, and at his elbow was a blonde. Dave Herman greeted him warmly and offered to buy drinks for the house. Namath grinned and shook hands all the way down the bar. There were no more tears. Joe Namath looked as if he couldn't wait until tomorrow to see how good he would look.