So the next day Rozelle took the lead. He telephoned Namath's lawyer, Jim Walsh, and suggested that he and Joe meet the following afternoon. On Tuesday, July 15, Namath appeared at the commissioner's apartment about 2 p.m., remained until 7, left, then came back at 10 for two more hours of discussion. "Our conversations never reached heated proportions," Rozelle said afterward. "They were low-key and amiable." On Wednesday the two talked again over the telephone, and that night Namath slipped secretly out to Hofstra, where he met with his teammates in their dressing room to reiterate his side of the story in detail.
The Jets were in the dark as much as everyone else. Early in the week Defensive Captain Johnny Sample, acting as the team's official spokesman, had demanded that the commissioner come out to Hofstra and tell the Jets exactly what Namath had done wrong. Rozelle thought the timing was bad. "I didn't want to go out there while Joe and I were discussing this situation and do anything that might disrupt the satisfactory solution to a very difficult problem," he said.
On Thursday Rozelle met for four hours with Walsh and, determined to clear everything up before the weekend, requested another meeting with Namath on Friday. Namath, booked on a 2 p.m. flight to Los Angeles, moved his reservation back five hours. Accompanied by Mike Bite, another of his attorneys, Namath walked into Rozelle's office at 3 o'clock Friday afternoon. "We reviewed the situation for about an hour and a half," Rozelle said. "There were no historic words. About 4:30 he just put out his hand, we shook and that was it."
Coach Weeb Ewbank, who had been trying to get his team—and especially 39-year-old backup Quarterback Babe Parilli—ready for the College All-Star Game in Chicago August 1, got the news just before leaving for dinner. A few minutes later he rose from his seat at the training table, tapped a glass with a spoon and told the Jets that Namath was selling his interest in Bachelors III and would be in camp Sunday night.
Still, everything isn't exactly super with the champions. A severe lack of communication between the players and management—Ewbank, in particular—was heightened last January when Assistant Coach Give Rush took a job as head coach of the Boston Patriots. Rush was the one man the Jets felt they could talk to candidly and, more important, he knew how to handle Broadway Joe. Ewbank, aware of this, last March hired Ken Meyer, an assistant coach at Alabama during Namath's college days, in a longshot hope that he can fill Rush's role.
All this is hardly a guarantee there will not be more fireworks involving the New York Jets this season, but—for the time being, at least—everybody is glad to see the white shoes back in the huddle. After all, that's where Joe Namath is at his best, regardless of what you may have heard.