December 29, 2011

MVP Profile: Joe Namath, 1968

Quarterback, New York Jets

Age: 25
4th season in pro football & with Jets
College: Alabama
Height: 6’2” Weight: 195

Chosen by both the NFL Cardinals and AFL Jets in the first round of the respective 1965 drafts, Namath signed a then-huge $427,000 contract with New York. A college star under Head Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant at Alabama, he had torn ligaments in his right knee during his senior year that required surgery. Knee and mobility issues would thus be significant throughout Namath’s career, but he took over as the starting quarterback for the Jets early in his rookie season and didn’t miss a game to injury (he wouldn’t in his first five seasons) while gaining selection to the AFL All-Star game. Charismatic (he quickly became a celebrity off the field) and a good leader, he also had a quick release and strong arm. Namath led the league in pass attempts and completions, yards, and TD passes in 1966 and ’67 – in the latter season, he became the first 4000-yard passer in NFL/AFL history (4007). Prone to trying to force passes into coverage, however, he also led the AFL in passes intercepted in both years.

1968 Season Summary
Appeared and started in all 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Attempts – 380 [3]
Most attempts, game – 43 at Buffalo 9/29
Completions – 187 [3]
Most completions, game – 20 vs. Denver 10/13
Yards – 3147 [3]
Most yards, game – 381 at Oakland 11/17
Completion percentage – 49.2 [4]
Yards per attempt – 8.3 [2]
TD passes – 15 [5]
Most TD passes, game – 4 at Buffalo 9/29
Interceptions – 17 [2]
Most interceptions, game – 5 at Buffalo 9/29, vs. Denver 10/13
Passer rating – 72.1 [4]
300-yard passing games – 4
200-yard passing games – 6

Attempts – 5
Most attempts, game – 5 on 5 occasions
Yards – 11
Most yards, game – 4 yards (on 1 carry) vs. Miami 12/1
Yards per attempt – 2.2
TDs – 2

TDs – 2
Points - 12

Postseason: 2 G
Pass attempts – 77
Most attempts, game - 49 vs. Oakland, AFL Championship
Pass completions – 36
Most completions, game - 19 vs. Oakland, AFL Championship
Passing yardage – 472
Most yards, game - 266 vs. Oakland, AFL Championship
TD passes – 3
Most TD passes, game - 3 vs. Oakland, AFL Championship
Interceptions – 1
Most interceptions, game - 1 vs. Oakland, AFL Championship

Rushing attempts – 1
Most rushing attempts, game - 1 vs. Oakland, AFL Championship
Rushing yards – 14
Most rushing yards, game - 14 vs. Oakland, AFL Championship
Average gain rushing – 14.0
Rushing TDs – 0

Awards & Honors:
AFL Player of the Year: AP, UPI, Sporting News
1st team All-NFL/AFL: Pro Football Weekly
1st team All-AFL: AP, PFWA, NEA, UPI, NY Daily News, Pro Football Weekly
1st team All-AFL East: Sporting News
AFL All-Star Game

Jets went 11-3 to win the AFL Eastern Division while finishing second in scoring (417 points). Won AFL Championship over Oakland Raiders (27-23) and Super Bowl over Baltimore Colts (16-7).

Namath passed for 2734 yards and 19 TDs as the Jets again topped the Eastern Division in 1969, but a broken wrist that sidelined him five games into the ’70 season became the first of a series of injuries that dogged the remainder of his career. After appearing in just nine games in 1970 and ’71, he came back in 1972 to lead the NFL in passing yards (2816), TD passes (19), and yards per attempt (8.7) and was named to the Pro Bowl. However, a separated shoulder limited him to six games in 1973 and, with the team deteriorating around him, he had only sporadic success while leading the league in interceptions in 1974 and ’75. Namath finished his career with the Rams in 1977 and ended up throwing for 27,663 yards with 173 TDs and 220 interceptions. His #12 was retired by the Jets and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, class of 1985.


MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself).

[Updated 2/11/14]