Even as a future Hall of Fame quarterback who won the only Super Bowl in franchise history, nerves still got the best of Jets legend Joe Namath.
On his first pass of Super Bowl III, Namath badly misfired on a pass to Jets wide receiver George Sauer Jr. Namath remembers his footwork being off and his mechanics being a little too fast and loose, the result of what he said was an overflow of adrenaline. That missed pass was the result of nerves, recalls Namath, who finished 17-of-28 for 206 yards in the Jets’ win over the Colts — arguably the greatest upset in Super Bowl history.
That square-in route haunts him to this day.
“He was open, and I flat overthrew him. I was a little too quick, and the adrenaline kicked in and I had to slow it down,” Namath told Metro. “Especially as the guy throwing the ball, your footwork is a little fast, your release a little quick. It all adds up. It all meant that I miss him, and boy, was he wide open on that play, too, dagum it.”
Namath remembers that his college debut — as a teenager for a football powerhouse — resulted in a different first play from scrimmage. It was 1962, and Namath was making his first appearance for Alabama, coached by the legendary Bear Bryant, who let his quarterbacks call their own plays.
“I wanted to get hit, I wanted to shake the nerves,” Namath said. “I can’t speak for every player, but the situation is enormous, especially in a championship game. You shake off the nerves eventually. You just have to.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.