Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rant #747: Jets Fly

I am not a football fan.

I could care less about the NFL, college football, the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl, or anything else having to do with football.

But when I was younger, I did enjoy football. I was a fan, certainly not as big a fan as I was for baseball and basketball, but I was a fan.

I watched football every Sunday by myself or with my friends, and my team was the New York Jets.

I lost my taste for football when the Jets and Giants left New York proper to play in New Jersey. They can call themselves "New York," but let's face it, they aren't.

Anyway, when I was a football fan, the 1969-1970 season was the time for me.

Just a few months before my bar mitzvah, the Jets won their first, and to date, only, Super Bowl.

Quarterback Joe Namath from the upstart Jets promised a Super Bowl win to everybody, even though the Baltimore Colts were heavily favored.

People snickered. There was no way this David was going to beat this Goliath.

And Namath came through with flying colors, further solidifying the then fledgling AFL as a legitimate league and rival to the long-established NFL, and certainly helping to push through the merger a few years later.

And the Jets had Namath, Broadway Joe, the idol of millions, the heartthrob of millions more.

Namath, believe it or not, turns 69 today, and my, have the years gone quickly.

He was to the AFL way more than Tim Tebow or Mark Sanchez are to the Jets of today.

He was their poster boy, much like Julius Erving was the poster boy for the ABA a few years later.

He was talented, handsome, media friendly, and this guy from Alabama sure could play.

And during that game, he played the game of his life.

I don't even remember the score of the game, but I can tell you that that Super Bowl was the only Super Bowl I watched from beginning to end with my dad. We watched the game on our old Dumont black and white TV, which was in our living room when we lived in Rochdale Village, Queens, New York.

My father was much like me at the time, a fan but not a voracious fan like we were for baseball and basketball.

But the game had significance, and we watched it, and yes, we came away happy.

I also remember that when the game ended in late afternoon--in those days, the game was played on a Sunday afternoon--we both went out, picked up some kosher deli, and ate dinner with my mom and sister, who were probably completely oblivious to the fact that the Jets won the game.

But I remember that game, because my father watched it with me.

And Namath made it something grand, and for that, I will always be grateful to him and the rest of the Jets.

So happy birthday, Broadway Joe. At least for about three hours one cold winter's day, you made your mark on my life and probably the lives of millions of other people just like me.

Have a good one.

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