LAS VEGAS — A message now from Joe Namath for his beloved Jets ahead of Sunday’s crucial game against his old, hated Raiders:
“I’d like to see them play the kind of game that gives them a chance. Don’t do stupid things like calling offsides or forgetting snap counts. Or even forget the damn direction to take, says Namath. “Don’t fight to begin with. The opposition is there to kick your butt in the first place. You’re making mental mistakes, it’s downright ignorant, and you won’t win. “
In other words: no more stupid Jet stuff.
“The first meeting we had as a team with Coach Paul (“Bear” Bryant) at the University of Alabama,” Namath recalled, “we were freshmen, there were 44 of us, and the first thing he said, “I’m going to teach you not to fight. I came from a high school championship team, we didn’t fight, I didn’t understand what he meant. You have to be disciplined there, your mind can’t wander. The focus is not always in the right direction.
Jets coach Robert Saleh didn’t remind anyone of Bear Bryant.
“I never met Saleh,” Namath said. “I haven’t paid much attention to the history of the entire coaching staff. I see what’s happening and they’re fighting. You have to coach guys better and guys have to learn better.
Zach Wilson is in the hot seat again for end zone crimes, but Namath can understand why Saleh resisted the temptation to look to Tim Boyle or Trevor Siemien for at least a spark.
“Is the save as good as Zach’s?” No, otherwise he wouldn’t be the replacement,” Namath said.
Namath has always trumpeted the importance of his offensive line.
“The guys on offense need to improve and they’ve been bitten by snakes and injured,” he said.
Wait, Broadway Joe just left a voicemail: “Sometimes these guys are just outclassed by better talent. Some teams are more talented than the Jets.
These Raiders are not one of them.
The animosity between the teams at the time has faded over the decades, but with plenty at stake for the 4-4 Jets – with games against the Bills and Dolphins looming, Zach Wilson needing more help from his defense. that Namath never made it his own – it would be a good idea for them to show up with the kind of mindset that Namath’s Jets did when they lined up against the talking Silver and Black trashy.
“Well, it’s going to be a fight,” Namath recalled, adding with a laugh: “We knew we had to be bad too. You did everything you could to win. You just knew it was going to be a real match of grudges, a real personality battle, because they had talkers. Phil Villapiano, you had to love Phil Villapiano. He was a great communicator on the field, not only with their team but with us, with me, with our team, and he always had a smile.
Wilson won’t be able to borrow Namath’s old white shoes or his Hall of Fame right-hand man, and as relentless as Maxx Crosby hounds him, Namath shouldn’t expect to have any disturbing flashbacks to 1967 Ben Davidson.
“The first time we played there, Big Ben Ugly Davidson had me twist my head on the ground, put his hand under my mask and reached up and scratched my eyes, man,” Namath said with a laugh . “I called him every name possible. I caught him as we stood up, he walked away. I told him that if he did it again, I said things I shouldn’t have done, but I threatened his family.
Saleh won’t be as paranoid about Raiders owner Mark Davis as Weeb Ewbank was about his father, legendary former Raiders owner Al Davis.
“Weeb kind of planted the seed that Al Davis would do anything to win,” Namath said. “He actually sent Bill Hampton, our equipment manager, up to the top in the closed end of Shea Stadium when we were practicing one day because there was a guy sitting up there. And Weeb swore he was a spy sent by Al Davis. It was a guy having lunch.
Namath actually liked Al Davis.
“He was great,” Namath said. “He had a big smile. … You didn’t trust him because of Weeb Ewbank. But he wanted to win: “Win, (baby). He was going to win any way he could, including guys accusing (placekicker) George Blanda of taking the air out of the ball so he could kick it better. He just had a very infectious and friendly personality. He looked a bit like a pirate or something. Kind of like a Johnny Depp character or something. He was trying to get all the information he could from you when we were talking off the field.
Walt Michaels, then an assistant coach with the Jets, was so paranoid about Al Davis that he tried to break down the door to the officials’ locker room after the Heidi game.
“I’m not saying that everyone in charge was somehow influenced by Mr. Davis,” Namath said, “but he may have had something to do with these guys.”
The John Rauch Raiders had unsuccessfully represented the AFL in Super Bowl II against Vince Lombardi’s Packers. On a freezing, windy day in Shea, it was Namath versus Daryle Lamonica in the 1968 AFL championship game.
“They were good,” Namath said, “and they behaved like they were good.”
Namath remembers being intercepted in the fourth quarter by rookie cornerback George Atkinson. “When he got on the field, I managed to get him off the field, and he stood up talking about hate: ‘I hate you.’ I hate you.’ — and actually, I had a few words for him about his mouth and being an effin rookie,” Namath said.
Namath trailed 23-20 when he changed a running play in the huddle into what became a 52-yard over-the-shoulder completion to Don Maynard to set up his game-winning 6-yard TD pass to Maynard with 7: 47 to play. a 27-23 victory.
“It was the most physically difficult match I played and won,” Namath said.
The Jets became the first AFL team to win the world championship.
“We had to win,” Namath said, “for the league.”
No more stupid Jet stuff.