Joe Namath, perhaps the most iconic quarterback of his generation — or any generation — feels for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Last week, Brady was named the most hated quarterback in the NFL by Public Policy Polling, taking 18 percent of the vote. But count Hall of Fame quarterback Namath, who had his fair share of critics for his off-the-field lifestyle, as a backer of Brady.
Namath points to Brady's resume, one that will surely take him to Canton someday, as a reason for the hatred. Nine Pro Bowls, three Super Bowl rings and supermodel wife Gisele Bundchen are enough to raise more than one jealous eyebrow.
“I think he looks at his wife's pictures in the magazines and holds her hands more than he reads his own press clips,” Namath said in a phone interview last week. “It is the wins No. 1, then because he is so visible [why he is disliked]. It is human nature to want that success and want to see your own quarterback succeed.”
Namath could see why Brady might not be so popular around the league. There is the success, the covers on national fashion magazines and the aura surrounding his glamorous lifestyle.
The former Jets star, nicknamed “Broadway Joe,” made headlines for his numerous high-profile romances, Hollywood acting, and his sideline fashion of bell bottoms and a fur coat.
“Opponents having to play against Brady have to be legitimately angry seeing his smile on the sideline after touchdowns,” Namath said. “It's kind of a compliment to be disliked by so many opponents. It comes from winning first.
“I had a defensive guy, when I played the Oakland Raiders in that championship game, before we went to the Super Bowl with the Jets [in 1969]. I threw an interception I blame on Mother Nature — the ball I thought I threw it perfect but it got caught up in the wind. A rookie cornerback made the interception and I tackled him on the return, just short of the goal line. He got up and boy was he hot. He screamed, 'I hate you, I hate you! I hate you Namath!' I looked at him and said, 'Easy there rookie,' and walked away. He wanted to make a point but I was a veteran there on the verge of a big win. Of course they are out to get you.
“I am now friendly with him to this day.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.