Legendary QB No Longer Has The Clout To Influence How Jets Do Business

By Jeff Capellini, CBSNewYork/WFAN.com

NEW YORK (WFAN) — As expected, mass hysteria has taken over Jets Nation. The team loses one game and all hell has broken loose. This time, though, the source of the madness is someone you’d expect to know better.

Is over-reaction to losses simply a product of life in the NFL? Is it because the Jets have ridiculous expectations and nothing short of a Patriots-like season will be accepted? Or is it more about Joe Namath needing to inject himself into the stream of conversation and criticism because he’s got little else to do?

Probably a little bit of all three.

The only thing that’s not open to debate right now is the cold, hard fact that the Jets got their heads handed to them out in Oakland on Sunday. Everything else is a matter of opinion, and from where I’m standing it’s all very silly.

Namath seems to believe the Jets are overconfident. He said so in a recent interview. He seems to think Rex Ryan actually coddles his players too much by telling them how good they are all the time. Namath seems like he would be having the Jets running for hours through the streets of Florham Park as punishment for their putrid effort in the 34-24 loss to the Raiders. He’d be grabbing face masks, telling guys they suck, dumping over Gatorade buckets and running five-a-days in practice as a further reminder to the Jets that they haven’t won a damn thing yet.

Well, that’s certainly one approach. But it’s one we’ve seen before. I’m not sure it works anymore.

My guess is Ryan would be taking a far more subtle look at the situation. He’d be watching hours of film on his horrible defense. He’d be discussing with coordinator Mike Pettine how to fix said defense in time for this Sunday night’s clash with the high-powered Ravens down in Baltimore. He’d be working with his offensive coaches to fix this banged up and, as a result, highly ineffective offensive line. He’d be instilling confidence in his skill position players, assuring them that this run-blocking and pass-blocking mess will be fixed and that they should stay frosty.

I kind of prefer the Rex method a tad more than the assumed Broadway Joe method.

Namath needs to relax. He knows nothing of what it takes to coach an NFL team. I would have hoped this guy would know by now how to take a loss in stride, considering he was part of more than his fair share of them as a player. How is it possible, in his opinion, that suddenly Ryan’s core approach to the game is wrong after just one loss? I don’t get it. The same approach that has basically rescued this franchise from sports oblivion and made it one of the more attractive destinations anywhere is now suddenly antiquated? The mere fact that by using this method the entire culture of Jets football has done a 180 is now meaningless?

C’mon man. It’s one loss for crying out loud.

Now it’s nice that Namath decided to join up with the Jets and use his knowledge to help make Mark Sanchez a better quarterback. I’m sure much of what he taught the third-year signal caller has been taken to heart and employed out on the field. But this notion that Namath knows more than Ryan does about motivating an entire team is pretty funny.

Namath is a revered figure, obviously, and much of what he says will hit home with many of the older Jets fans, the guys who had season tickets back at Shea and could really do without the trash-talking, pump-yourself-up nature Ryan has brought to this team. But to many others, when Namath opens his mouth these days it becomes a cautionary tale on what not to say. He often spews some really strange things and has become, in a way, sort of that crazy uncle that you try to avoid at family reunions.

Don’t get me wrong. The guy was a great player as far as the annals of Jets history are concerned, but he doesn’t really have the pulse of this franchise anymore and it shows in his comments.

Namath, like many others, really hasn’t been paying attention since the lockout ended. The Jets have actually been rather humble by their lofty standards. I haven’t heard one diatribe from Bart Scott, the team’s king mouthpiece, very little from trash-talker extraordinaire Antonio Cromartie — and I’m talking before he embarrassed himself on national television on Sunday — and basically little to nothing from everyone else.

Even Rex, for his part, has been far less bombastic than usual.

The Jets haven’t really carried themselves this season as a group of guys that know who the hell they are, which is odd and may be part of the reason why they seem to lack that obvious edge when they take the field. Everyone else seems to think they are the same team, but reality is the public still sees the Jets as the loud-mouth group from last season, not the somewhat muted version of the same group they are this season.

To hear Namath criticize Ryan’s coaching methods is also funny because this is the same guy who shot his mouth off prior to Super Bowl III, saying that his 18-point underdog Jets would beat the mighty Colts. So I guess since Namath made good on his boast he now has license to thumb his nose at the franchise’s current emotional leader, forgetting of course that Ryan has hardly been Patrick Ewing in the prediction department. Better teams than the 2009 and 2010 Jets have lost conference championship games.

Maybe Namath is just bored or still craves the spotlight to a degree. Regardless, it just seems like his words don’t carry the same weight they once did. Does he really think he can be a master motivator from a distance? Now he’s George Steinbrenner firing off missives? Will the Jets suddenly show up at practice fearing for their jobs because a guy who won a ring four decades ago disapproves of aspects of what the franchise currently represents? Is he trying some deranged form of reverse psychology, sitting back and whispering to himself “Yeah, that should light a fire under them,” with the same air of confidence he wore like a badge of honor in the late 1960s?


The Jets are who they are as individuals. It’s part of their allure. Like it or not it’s their charm. It’s often maddening, but it’s largely effective and the vast majority of fans love every second of it. All the Joe Namaths shouting from the highest mountain tops on Earth won’t change that or alter perception.

The bottom line is as a team the Jets have some issues to iron out right now, many that words cannot fix. Let the guys worried about personnel and Xs and Os do their jobs. Leave the armchair quarterbacking to the true experts, the fine people of Twitter and Facebook whose passion for the team’s success rivals anyone’s, including that of a legend’s.

Namath needs to be above the Michael Strahans of the world. He needs to be a party elder, not a cheap-shot artist.

And Rex needs to keep being Rex. I guarantee you the day he sells out and becomes what the high and mighty few desire this franchise will once again go in the toilet.

He’ll win more than his fair share of damn games — and he’ll do it by hell or high water with his proven methods.

And never while wearing a mink coat.

Read more columns by Jeff Capellini

Do you think Namath was correct to criticize Rex? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

Comments (22)
  1. Newkophile says:

    As one who went to his first Jet game in ’63 and has owned season tix since the late ’60s, I can understand how Namath himself lives and dies with this team, more so than we fans who have stuck with the Jets oh so long. By virtue of what he has accomplished, Namath can get on a soapbox and say whatever he wants to say and it will be publicized for all Jet personnel and fans to see. Namath may (or may not) regret the furor his words have caused, but I’m sure he did it more out of the fact that he witnessed a truly awful all around performance from the team he loves and he just had to vent. Lots of we older fans are not all that comfortable with Rex’s style and swagger but obviously winning trumps everything. So as Al Davis, ironically of the silver and black, says, “Just win, baby”.

  2. FYI says:

    Remember one thing Green Lantern & all those young Jets fans who think they know it all, but if the Jets lose that championship game in ’69 there may be no AFC.

    It’s be said & written many times on how important that game was for football. Broadway Joe & the ’69 Jets made the NFL possible.

    What has Rex Ryan done for the game? It’s not a trick question, even young punks like you can all answer the question, but then again, maybe not.

    1. Lantern says:

      How young do you think I am? Don’t be so quick to assume and stay on point. No one is saying here Joe Namath never contributed to the greater good of the franchise. But facts are facts he often hurts the franchise more than helps it when he opens his mouth.

  3. Jack Kennedy says:

    Joe is right

  4. Robert says:

    I think Joe was right. Sports reporting has become the male version of “The View”.

    1. Robert Richardson says:

      Oh NOOOOOOOOO! not “The View” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Brendan says:

    Wow, I’m the only Jets fan on here who thinks what Joe said is right!
    Look at the AFC Championship game last year: the defense came out sucking and we could never get out of the hole. The defense sucked against Dallas. And the defense sucked against Oakland.
    Rex, our defense sucks sometimes! When are you going to figure that out?
    I bet we’ll come out and have a big defensive effort against Baltimore because our defense is mad, but you know what will happen after that? We’ll take so many bows like we did when we just beat Jacksonville that we’ll suck against the Patriots. That’s why Pittsburgh kicked our ass last year. We took so many bows after beating New England!

    1. Lantern says:

      Brendan, dude you are torn between hating and loving this team. You have to take the good with the bad. And to paint the defense as “sucking” after one truly bad effort is pure madness, as is assuming the defense will be Helter-Skelter the rest of the way.

      1. Brendan says:

        Dude don’t tell me how I feel about the Jets. I’m a long time fan and season ticket holder. And I think my previous comment makes it clear that I’m not talking about just one bad effort.

        1. Lantern says:

          It seems like you expect the defense to perform miracles. With pretty much the same personnel the D has repeatedly rebounded from poor efforts and been more than good enough to get this team to within a half two straight years of getting to the Super Bowl. As a long-time season ticket holder you, of all people, should have perspective. What you have now (or prior to last week) is light years ahead of anything you’ve had before, save for a brief flash of light in the early 80s. The NFL is not about perfection. A win is a win is a win. There are no style points awarded for how you get them, just as much as a loss is a loss. One doesn’t mark the end of the world. The defense will be fine.

  6. Mike M says:

    You don’t like what Namath said because he is correct. Why do Jets fans constantly need to be told their team is the best and their quarterback is great? They are clearly not the best. And the quarterback is ranked 28th every year for a reason. Rex shooting his mouth off is old already. In the end there are 2 teams in NY better than the Jets.

    1. Lantern says:

      Thanks for your response, but gimme a break. How is Joe correct? Prior to Rex, Jets did nothing forever save for 1998. Since Rex and his methods arrived they have back to back AFC title game appearances. Give me something better than that.

  7. mike says:

    Hi Jeff. I agree with you that Rex has given this time life after years in the depths of NFL disparity. Maybe I am biased because I am a Giants fan, but I must say that he and most other Jets have done a lot of talking…and while two straight appearnaces in the AFC Championship game is very appluadable and admirable, they have not yet backed up their claims as the best team in the league and super bowl champs. Namath can be annoying at times, but he’d done the one thing no one else in this franchise has- won a Super Bowl. Joe has a right to say what he wants and fans and the media can give it the relevance they feel it deserves. Not everyone is a fan of big-talkers who haven’t backed up their talk yet. I guess Joe is in that club…..

    1. Lantern says:

      Hi Mike and thanks for your response. You are correct. Joe can say whatever he wants, but for anyone to even give what he says the time of day, considering how absurd he sounds sometimes, is shortsighted. Rex is the best coach this franchise has had in 40 years and arguably ever.

  8. matt says:

    the new guy john jastremski is a DOLPHIN fan. I would love to see him and benigno teamed up to do a show.

  9. R. Richardson (NYCanes) says:

    I have been a Gang Green fan since the Joe Willie days and no one else desires to see a climb to greatness more than me. The climb is based on successes not words. I understand psychology and the need to have a team believe in themselves but a constant public spouting of self absorption is leading to simple diarrhea of the mouth. The team’s successes of the past several years has not led to a single super bowl appearance. Not one, which renders all this boasting and attacking meaningless. Go ask the Bills of the 90’s with 4 consecutive big dance appearances and their place in history. Maybe if some of that energy can be turned inward their performance on the field would improve. I love Broadway Joe but he’s an old man now and though he he is entitled to his JETS views (he’s earned it), they should be taken with a grain of salt like a GREAT-grandfather! I love the J-E-T-S and wish them nothing but BIG rings, but honestly they are really not all that now.

    1. Lantern says:

      R. Richardson, well said sir and thanks for the comment.

  10. True Blue says:

    Hey Jeff,
    Why the dig on Strahan? Talk about a “cheap shot”. Is anyone on this website capable of writing an article without blasting the Giants or their current or former players? I’m surprised you weren’t able to squeeze in something nasty about Eli too.

    1. Lantern says:

      True Blue, thanks for the comment. Strahan thought it best to tweet about Tuck’s heart while Tuck was playing in a game and then tried to pass it off as motivation. You don’t motivate a guy to the public. You motivate a guy to his face. So, I felt it necessary to draw the comparison between Strahan’s comments and Namath’s comments. So in reality, I was actually defending your best player.

      1. True Blue says:

        Point taken…appreciated and agreed.

  11. Joseph Nicolas Zecher says:

    Joe Namath needs to back off. Im an old time, old school Jet fan, but to have a Jet Quarterback from the 60s to be some type of on going critic of this team and what it does or doesnt do, needs to stop.
    Im starting to see how Joe can create more problems for the current team than being helpful. I understand that the Jet franchise has little other than Joe Namath in its past, he really needs to put his own self in perspective. I can see how the roster of the team moving foward can be affected by this one guy’s endless comments and input.
    Its one thing if he gets a mike put in his face and asked…oh wait, he did, remember Suzi Kolber?
    Time for Joe stop the endless twitter….please!

    1. Lantern says:

      Joseph, thanks for reading and sharing. I agree wholeheartedly. Namath needs to measure his words or at least think things through, taking everything into consideration, before saying them.

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