1969: Joe Namath Guarantees A Super Bowl Victory For His Underdog Jets

By | January 7, 2021

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New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath (12) looking on as he led the Jets to a 16-7 victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III on 1/12/1969 at the Orange Bowl in Miami Florida. (Photo by Fred Roe/Getty Images)

In 1969, the New York Jets were headed to the Super Bowl III (previously called the AFL-NFL Championship) and Joe Namath really stepped in it. The quarterback guaranteed to the press that his Jets team -- champs of the AFL, considered the inferior league -- would defeat the Baltimore Colts. The guarantee was one of the most famous statements ever made by an athlete, in no small part because it came to pass. The upstart Jets beat the odds and won the game, and Namath -- who was already a popular player known for his charisma -- became a quasi-magical figure in sports.

Athletes Usually Avoid Making Predictions

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The infamous picture of Namath running off the field after his guaranteed victory. (ajc)

The only people asked to predict the future more often than professional athletes are fortune tellers. Before and after just about every game, reporters will inevitably ask players what they think will happen in the next contest, especially in the playoffs. Just about every time -- unless they're Muhammad Ali -- athletes will fall into cliches about playing hard and putting themselves in a position to win. They avoid saying anything controversial or bold, afraid of creating motivation for their opponent. One man, appropriately nicknamed Broadway Joe, didn’t just predict a win, he guaranteed it. This is the story of Joe Namath’s famous Superbowl promise and the underdog, New York Jets.