On the other hand, the Jets are still waiting for Namath to return to his Super Bowl form of eight years ago, almost as if the next Brut commercial will bring it about. It was not Namath who beat the Bills, incidentally, although he finally threw his first touchdown pass of the season, a two-yard lob to Tight End Mike Osborne. The pitiable effort on the part of the Bills was largely the difference. They fumbled a lot, and O.J. did not get the ball often, and the entire second half was mostly a question of which backup quarterback, the Jets' Richard Todd or Buffalo's Gary Marangi, could hold his team back more consistently.
They blew the proper buildup for the game. A shrewd Madison Avenue type would have labeled it the Millionaires vs. the Media. Earlier in the week it was being written that Namath's passing skills had deteriorated. This has been true for quite a while, of course, but nobody around New York wanted to admit it, Namath being one of the few sports celebs the city has to brag about. But, alas, it leaked. The fact that Joe had not thrown a touchdown pass in four games, and the Jets were 0 and 4, was too much to overlook.
"Am I doing anything differently?" Namath said testily to a writer. "Am I missing any reads? Look at the films. It's the media. I'm sick and tired of it."
It was not known whether several members of the media stepped forward to volunteer to take the blame for Namath's poor throwing statistics. Perhaps many of them should have, having already received from him over the years the rewards they cherished most: any number of friendly hellos, up to three or four a season.
Curiously enough, the normally amiable O.J. was having something of the same kind of trouble up in Buffalo. A newspaper chap had written that Simpson wasn't rushing so terrifically and that his home life was closer to Mary Hartman's than the little house on the prairie.
O.J. countered by attacking through radio interviews. He accused the writer of telling lies. He wrote a letter and had his lawyer write a letter, and the saga continued, and it was all very messy and isn't over yet.
Nothing can be proved by any of this, naturally, except something that mature people already know: stars vs. the media is a standoff. The press will always have the last word, but the stars will console themselves with swimming pools and sports cars.
Where all of this leaves New Yorkers is difficult to say. Right now, in all likelihood, most of them are laughing at the state of their pro football teams, for New Yorkers learned long ago, way before anyone else, that you have to laugh and stay nimble to survive.
New York humor is like this: two guys are in a saloon, a Giant fan and a Jet fan, and they are arguing about who could have had the better team if the clubs had drafted properly. The Giant fan has come up with such names as Ken Anderson, Lydell Mitchell, Lynn Swann, Nat Moore. Jack Youngblood, Mel Blount and Jake Scott, among others, and the Jet fan has come up with Ken Stabler, Franco Harris, Terry Metcalf, Cliff Branch, Jack Ham, Bill Bergey and Elvin Bethea, among others, and they have declared it a standoff, and they have bought each other a round of drinks, and the Jet guy has said, "Here's to Rocky Thompson," and the Giant guy has said, "Yeah, well, here"s to Al Woodall then."