June 23, 2013

MVP Profile: Joe Namath, 1969

Quarterback, New York Jets

Age: 26
5th 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. In 1968, the Jets won the AFL Championship and an upset win in the Super Bowl – Namath was AFL Player of the Year for his season performance and MVP of the Super Bowl.

1969 Season Summary
Appeared and started in all 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Attempts – 361 [3]
Most attempts, game – 51 at San Diego 9/28
Completions – 185 [2]
Most completions, game – 29 at San Diego 9/28
Yards – 2734 [2]
Most yards, game – 344 at San Diego 9/28
Completion percentage – 51.2 [3]
Yards per attempt – 7.6 [3]
TD passes – 19 [2, tied with Mike Taliaferro]
Most TD passes, game – 3 vs. Miami 11/2
Interceptions – 17 [5]
Most interceptions, game – 3 at Buffalo 9/14, vs. Houston 10/20, vs. Kansas City 11/16
Passer rating – 74.3 [3]
300-yard passing games – 3
200-yard passing games – 5

Attempts – 11
Most attempts, game – 2 (for 8 yds.) at Buffalo 9/14, (for 3 yds.) vs. Houston 10/20, (for 0 yds.) vs. Miami 11/2
Yards – 33
Most yards, game – 16 yards (on 1 carry) vs. Boston 10/26
Yards per attempt – 3.0
TDs – 2

TDs – 2
Points - 12

Postseason: 1 G (AFL Divisional playoff vs. Kansas City)
Pass attempts – 40
Pass completions – 14
Passing yardage – 164
TD passes – 0
Interceptions – 3

Rushing attempts – 1
Rushing yards – 1
Rushing TDs – 0

Awards & Honors:
AFL Player of the Year: AP
1st team All-AFL: NEA, NY Daily News
2nd team All-AFL: AP, UPI, Sporting News
AFL All-Star Game

Jets went 10-4 to win AFL Eastern Division. Lost AFL Divisional playoff to Kansas City Chiefs (13-6).

A broken wrist sidelined Namath five games into the ’70 season, 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). 

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