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EA: Super Memories at Namath Golf Tourney

Posted by Eric Allen on October 8, 2008 – 1:50 pm

Throughout the years, I’ve heard the story often. My father started to tell it when I was just a young kid growing up in Buffalo, N.Y., and he repeated it yesterday when we spoke by phone after I attended the Joe Namath March of Dimes Celebrity Golf Tournament at Bethpage State Park on Long Island.

The year after the Jets’ Super Bowl win, they visited Buffalo’s War Memorial Stadium and Bills fans gave Namath and his teammates a standing ovation for their 16-7 victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. My dad, a lifelong Bills fan who quietly roots for us in Western New York, was surely proud of the knowledgeable salute to a rival, but he made it clear to me from early on that I should know that this was no ordinary champion.

In my youth, I don’t think I ever fully appreciated that win or its importance to pro football. But now eight years into my tenure with the Jets, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to some of those heroes — Namath, Boozer, Herman, Beverly, Schmitt, Grantham, Hill, Mathis — on at least a few occasions over the years.

And although many of those conversations have been memorable (Ken Ilchuk, who was my former boss, and I interviewed Namath once for more than an hour back at Weeb Ewbank Hall), Tuesday’s golf outing topped them all.

First of all, Namath throws a good party (and kudos to Brooks Thomas, the former Jets PR staffer who put this thing together for the March of Dimes), and all the proceeds will go to a wonderful cause.

Before any celebrity struck a ball, they assembled together and sat on risers for photos. Then former Jets LB Greg Buttle announced all-star casting from the sporting world, including the likes of Julius Erving — Dr. J. — Deacon Jones, Jim Kelly, Gary Carter, Darryl Strawberry, Clark Gillies, “Gentleman” Gerry Cooney, Jonathan Ogden, Ted Hendricks, Steve Largent, a number of Jets alumni and just too many other notables to include in this space.

Buttle saved Namath for last and I have to think Bob “White Shoes” Wischusen will do the same when the Jets honor their only championship team at halftime of the Chiefs game on Oct. 26. Forty years after the Green & White shocked the football world, they’ll come together largely intact in what promises to be an emotional tribute.

During the lead-up to that game, we’re going to relive that magical season here on newyorkjets.com. We’ll give you a snapshot of each game that season with scoring plays and charts, trivia and player commentary included.

Yesterday, I spoke to a number of players from that famed ’68 squad. As expected, some of those regular-season contests are a bit hazy, but these guys still remember many things vividly.

Namath recalled asking for some help from up above when the clock ticked down at the Orange Bowl. John Schmitt told me the Jets had so much hatred for the Raiders that they literally would have fought them in the parking lot. Larry Grantham and Winston Hill praised Ewbank for his ability to connect with players and they both viewed him as a father figure. Randy Beverly discussed his family’s disbelief when they found out the Jets had lost the “Heidi” game in Oakland. And Grantham told me the coaching staff stopped showing them film of the Colts three days prior to the game because they knew the players were so confident that they’d win the game.

I’ve got a few personal favorites that I’ll save for our official 1968 section on the site, but this was a unique group of guys and an excellent football team. There may have been better teams and there were surely better games played, but those Jets won the most important game in pro football history.

The story doesn’t change any — it just gets better with time. Those ’68 Jets are like a fine wine and the organization will pop open that cork at halftime of the Chiefs game.

For people like me, who never saw them play in person or on television, it will be our chance to give them a standing O.

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Posted in Eric Allen | 6 Comments »

6 Responses to “EA: Super Memories at Namath Golf Tourney”

  1. By Dennis Riehman Sr and Jr on Oct 8, 2008 | Reply

    Was out there yesterday and have been a Jets fan since the 60’s. I had the pleasure of spending time talking about the good old days with the fine gentlemen you named along with Mike D’Amato and of course Joe Willie. For a Bronx boy Jet fan it was a great day in 69 and a great day in 2008! Thanks for the memories and the pride of being a Super Bowl Champion!

  2. By Bob Dobolina on Oct 8, 2008 | Reply

    I’ll never forget the intensity of the Raiders games in those years. Ben Davidson and Daryl Lamonica were the Darth Vaders and Namath and Maynard were the Luke Skywalkers.

  3. By mike ex jet fan on Oct 9, 2008 | Reply

    Please stop with smith .. his job is to break up the play .. That’s exactly what he did 4 the team .. He showed heart was willing to take 1 for the[ TEAM ] fans so lets show him the same respect… For the players that crucify him on the play he fell resulted in TD happens to the best of us… every1 makes mistakes so lets cut him a break… He’s a solid player ask mangini

  4. By Howard on Oct 9, 2008 | Reply

    what a reconnection to my youth as i was only 7 yrs old at the time of sb3 but was watching jet games with my dad and brother for a couple yrs by then the namath to maynard combo will always be my all time favorite

  5. By mike ex jet fan on Oct 9, 2008 | Reply

    My opinion on TJ to this point … Let him sit … let chatman & leon work there magic both have averaged more yardage .. TJ’s shows no fire anymore & after he sits a game or 2 .. Then We’ll see if the fire comes back if not put him on the block & move on . Time to start setting examples .. Time to step up players & earn them $$$$$$$… We need production not muscles

  6. By Row on Oct 9, 2008 | Reply

    This stuff makes me want to move to NY. I hope it’s not too cold on Sunday..

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