Quarterback Joe Namath played American football from 1965 to 1977, but it was his performance in 1969's Super Bowl III that catapulted him to stardom and cemented his place in sports history. Joe Namath was a star quarterback at the University of Alabama, where he played for legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant and led the team to a 29-4 record in three seasons. In 1965 he won the Most Valuable Player award after Alabama's loss at the Orange Bowl, and almost immediately signed a contract to play with the New York Jets of the American Football League. At the time the league was overshadowed by the National Football League (though the two later merged), and Namath's natural charisma and swagger brought more public attention to the AFL. When the Jets made it to the Super Bowl in 1969, it was assumed the NFL's Baltimore Colts (led by Johnny Unitas) would win the contest with ease. Joe Namath made headlines by proclaiming in public that he could "guarantee" a Jets victory. Namath dominated the game, the Jets beat the Colts in a stunning upset and Namath was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
Joe Namath's off-field carousing and flash earned him the nickname "Broadway Joe," and he was one of the first professional football players to become a celebrity outside the realm of sports. He advertised products on television (notably women's pantyhose), guest-starred on TV shows and tried a turn acting in feature films. He was also famous for his flamboyant fashion sense and was often seen on the sidelines wearing a full-length fur coat. He was plagued by chronic knee problems in the later years of his career, but stayed in the league for thirteen years and spent all but one season with New York (in 1977 he played for the Los Angeles Rams).
Joe Namath wore uniform number 12 throughout his pro career… In 1965 he was voted Rookie-of-the-Year… In Super Bowl III he went 17 of 28 in passing, for 206 yards… Over the course of his career he passed for more than 27,000 yards… Joe Namath was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 1985.