|“I’ve got news for you. We’re gonna win the game. I guarantee it.“
Lamar Hunt might have dubbed it the Super Bowl but it was Joe “Willy” Namath, from the University of Alabama, who made the name a reality. Sure, there were NFL and AFL-NFL playoff games before Super Bowl III but it was not until this brash, brazen 25 year old confidently predicted and delivered a N Y Jets win over the mighty NFL Baltimore Colts that the name was enshrined.
On Sunday, January 12th, 1969, as reported in the Washington Post, “Broadway Joe wheeled and dealed with near perfection.” On that day, Joe Namath and the N Y Jets “exposed the myth of NFL superiority over “the little league” inflicting a 16-6 disaster and ushered in the merger of the two leagues in 1970.
Throughout his career in Tuscaloosa and in the NFL, Namath was known for his strong arm, accurate passing, and confidence on the field. In New York, Namath was also a larger-than-life figure, which helped him stand out both on and off the field. Yet, for the players in both leagues, then and today, Namath and other AFL players also helped in another practical area – ushering in larger paychecks.
In 1965, Namath turned down a St. Louis Cardinal’s offer of $200,000 and a new Lincoln Continental convertible, signing a three-year contract worth more than $400,000 with the New York Jets. Signing Namath was a boon for the AFL. The good-looking and charismatic quarterback helped drive a national audience to the AFL on NBC television. Until then, CBS and the NFL had dominated viewership.
It is also interesting to note the two distinct styles of play between the AFL and the NFL. While the NFL teams were known for their traditional hard rushing plays, the AFL teams relied on passing. The Green Bay Packers had the Packer Sweep – a back taking a handoff and running parallel to the line of scrimmage before turning up field behind lead blockers – but the AFL teams revitalized professional football with an open style of play on offense that emphasized passing. Even the football they used, made by Spalding Company, was longer, skinnier and rougher to hold, making it easier to pass.
Today, there are 32 teams in the NFL and $12.00 Super Bowl tickets (January 12th, 1969) are hard to find. Super Bowl LVIII will be played at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada on Sunday, February 11, 2024. From all of us at Dixie Mechanical, we wish you and your families a wonderful celebration of a true American creation, remembering those who have worked hard to make the classic Super Bowl Sunday possible.