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Sports Then and Now

50 Years Ago: Joe Namath and the Jets Shock the World 0

Posted on January 11, 2019 by Dean Hybl
Joe Namath dominated the attention prior to Super Bowl III, but few expected his team to win.

Joe Namath dominated the attention prior to Super Bowl III, but few expected his team to win.

With apologies to boxing legend Muhammad Ali, the most shocking sports victory of the 1960s took place 50 years ago on January 12, 1969 when the underdog New York Jets lifted the fortunes of an entire league by defeating the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.

Though the American Football League (AFL) was completing its ninth season and the champions of the AFL and National Football League (NFL) were meeting for the third straight year, most people did not consider the two leagues to be equal. In fact, it is reported that NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle believed it might be another decade before the AFL would be an equal to the NFL and that a new format for the Super Bowl might be needed.

In hindsight, we know that the two leagues were indeed much closer in competitiveness than Rozelle believed, but at the time his reasoning was hard to argue against. The NFL Champion Green Bay Packers had claimed the first two Super Bowls by a combined margin of 68-24 and the current NFL Champion Baltimore Colts were perhaps an even more dominant champion than Green Bay.

While the Colts were an established NFL power, the New York Jets were an AFL upstart that had just completed the second winning season in franchise history and were making their first-ever trip to the playoffs.

However, one “ace in the hole” for the Jets was roaming their sidelines. Head Coach Week Ewbank had won two NFL Championships during his nine year tenure as coach of the Baltimore Colts. After moving to the Jets, he had taken the team from a basement dweller to league champions.

During both his time with the Colts and the Jets, Ewbank had the benefit of having an elite franchise quarterback leading the offense.

In Baltimore, he turned Johnny Unitas into an all-time great. Though New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath had not yet reached that status level, in 1967 he did become the first quarterback in pro football history to pass for more than 4,000 yards in a season. Read the rest of this entry →

Waiting for the Weekend: Is Karma More Powerful Than Talent? 4

Posted on January 21, 2010 by Dean Hybl
Sunday will be the biggest game between the Colts and Jets since Super Bowl III.

Sunday will be the biggest game between the Colts and Jets since Super Bowl III.

Okay, be honest. How many people had the New York Jets reaching the AFC Championship Game in their preseason predictions? Other than maybe ESPN’s resident Jets cheerleader Mike Greenberg, I seriously doubt there were many folks giving the Jets much of a chance.

The general consensus is that their improbable playoff run will end this weekend in Indianapolis, but the more I look at this Jets team the more I think they might have karma on their side.

First off, can you pick a more appropriate opponent for the underdog Jets to beat and earn their first Super Bowl trip in 41 years?

When the Jets beat the Big, Bad Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III it forever changed the game of professional football.

A win by the current Jets over the Indianapolis Colts wouldn’t have quite the impact to the history of the sport, but it would certainly make the short-list of all-time playoff upsets.

That game represented the changing of the guard with young and boastful Joe Namath taking the reins from aging veteran Johnny Unitas.

In the quarterback battle of 2010, Jets youngster Mark Sanchez is not as loud and glamorous as Namath, but he has the same kind of dark good looks that made Namath a star. Sanchez has yet to display the same kind of passing ability as Namath, who was the first quarterback to pass for 4,000 yards in a season, but he has made a great start and has time on his side. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Rocky Colavito: Super Slugger
      March 30, 2020 | 7:24 pm
      Rocky Colavito

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was just the fifth player in Major League Baseball history to have 11 straight seasons with 20 or more home runs, yet could not sustain that greatness long enough to earn a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      In some sense, the legend of Rocco “Rocky” Colavito Jr. began long before he ever started pounding home runs at the major league level.

      Born and raised as a New York Yankees fan in The Bronx, Colavito was playing semipro baseball before he was a teenager and dropped out of high school at 16 after his sophomore year to pursue a professional career. The major league rule at the time said a player could not sign with a pro team until his high school class graduated, but after sitting out for one year, Colavito was allowed to sign at age 17.

      Read more »

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