Whenever the Vikings play the Jets, I’m reminded of the time I had to go into a shower to interview Joe Namath.
I noticed recently that Namath, the Hall of Fame quarterback who led the Jets to a victory in Super Bowl III, is not happy with the operation of his current team, from top to bottom – owner, coach, GM, players, you name it.
Namath recently told ESPN, “There are some things that need to be addressed. I think most fans that are knowledgeable see this as not working.”
I met Namath through my friendship with former Gophers football star Clayton Tonnemaker, who introduced me to coach Clive Rush; the two played together in the early 1950s for the Green Bay Packers. Rush was the offensive coordinator for the Jets in the late 1960s under coach Weeb Ewbank. I knew Ewbank from when he was on Paul Brown’s staff with the Cleveland Browns. Because of all that, I got to know Joe Namath. I could call him anytime I wanted and interview him for this newspaper and also for my “Today’s Sports Hero” show on WCCO.
So, I’m in New York, after Fran Tarkenton was traded to the Giants. He is facing Joe Namath and the Jets in a big preseason game in 1969, shortly after the Jets won the Super Bowl. It was the first time the teams ever met and, at the time, Namath is not talking to the press after the games. I’m in the Jets locker room and he tells me, “I’m going to take a shower … If you want an interview, you got to get in there and get wet.”
To make a long story short, I get the only interview from Namath. And in my lake house, on the St. Croix, thanks to former Star Tribune publisher Keith Moyer, I’ve got a six-foot drawing of me sticking my microphone into the shower and getting all wet interviewing Namath.