It’s been 51 years since Joe Namath followed through on ‘The Guarantee’ that the New York Jets would win the Super Bowl and the legend remains alive.
New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath was preparing to lead his team against the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III 51 years ago when he lived up to his “Broadway Joe” moniker by saying, “The Jets will win Sunday. I guarantee it,” on stage at a ceremony from the Miami Touchdown Club at Miami Springs Villa. He went so far as to call out Colts players for running their mouths prior to the game.
Namath and the Jets’ opponent, the Colts, were favored to win by 18 points. Namath’s knees were in pretty bad shape and Baltimore had the second-most potent offense in football to go with the outright best defense. A blowout in favor of the Colts seemed inevitable. Subsequently, Namath’s guaranteed victory wasn’t just cocky — it was borderline insanity.
But that was part of the equation with Broadway Joe; always brash, often arrogant and never afraid to ruffle any feathers, Namath showed no hesitation to exude his confidence. However, a bold guarantee wouldn’t be legendary if the result didn’t follow through.
Namath and the Jets did just that, winning 16-7 over the Colts as the quarterback was named MVP — an impressive feat considering that he didn’t even throw a touchdown pass in the game. Anyone can guarantee a victory. But how many people could go out and do it on the biggest stage in the sport when no one thought it was possible?
After Super Bowl III not only Namath’s fame but pro football’s popularity soared to a different planet. Attendance rose tremendously, as did television viewership which was aided even more two years later with the launch of Monday Night Football. The league largely credited Namath — so much so that the Jets played in the very first game.
Personal demons followed Namath off the field and the highs he experienced from his on-field performance and “The Guarantee” didn’t last forever. However, the moment lives on as one of the greatest in NFL history. Not only was it iconic for the Super Bowl victory but also for what it ended up meaning for the league as large.
Put simply, the NFL as we know it today might not exist had the hubris of Broadway Joe not only caused him to make “The Guarantee” but to follow through on his word.