It isn’t a tank year for the New York Jets, so says the greatest player in franchise history. But Joe Namath does want to see this team get better and improve, something many critics around the NFL think will be difficult given their roster this year.
The Jets are clearly in a youth movement and rebuild mode, the team cutting ties with a number of veterans this offseason such as quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, center Nick Mangold, cornerback Darrelle Revis, wide receiver
Brandon Marshall and linebacker David Harris among others. That the team is getting ready to tank, however, is a fallacy according to Namath.
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He doesn’t agree with the conventional wisdom that the Jets are looking to lose games just to get a top draft pick in 2018.
“They’re not trying to lose games, they’re absolutely not. The coaches aren’t, the players aren’t. They’re giving every ounce of energy they can. No, no, no. They’re not at that level because they accept losing,” Namath told Metro.
After spending big two years ago in free agency and then keeping his core together, general manager Mike Maccagnan had some tough decisions this offseason. He parted ways with a number of popular veterans and likely ‘Ring of Honor’ members, knowing full well that the team had to get younger.
Now with the expectation level so low for the Jets this offseason, just a competitive season might be enough to see Maccagnan keep his job as well as that of head coach Todd Bowles.
Namath is hopeful that the Jets can rebuild and be competitive and headed in the right direction. He sees the NFL Draft as a key to the organization’s process, a part of team-building that the franchise has seemed to struggle in for the better part of a decade.
The team did get good returns from Leonard Williams, the defensive lineman taken in the first round two years ago in Maccagnan’s first draft with the Jets. But the jury remains out on his quarterback selections including Bryce Petty (2015) and Christian Hackenberg (2016).
“I think all of us are frustrated – I say all of us who are Jets teams. The 31 other teams couldn’t care less. But we care about the Jets, we care as fans but it’s been frustrating. I try not to talk about it, critiquing the Jets, unless I have something good to say about them. There was a time that I was critiquing them honestly and that didn’t work out because no one wants to hear negatively about it. I’m disappointed about the selection process of certain personnel over the years, especially in recent years. Maccagnan first came in, Bowles first came in, things look like they were on the upswing,” Namath said.
“Williams is doing well; we’ve made some good draft choices. I’ve got some issues with how they pick certain players, quarterbacks specifically. The jury is still out on Hackenberg. Hopefully he gets enough tries to see if he can hold down the job. Same thing with Petty.
“I think there’s a history, there’s been coach in the past, I’m not going to say the name, who said it is better to go 2-14 than 8-8 with that philosophy you’re going to get a higher draft picks. Mediocrity – you can’t be happy with it.
Fans can’t be happy with it.”
While Namath maintains a busy schedule he is also passionate about finding answers for traumatic brain injuries.
The Joe Namath Neurological Research Center works with those suffering from brain injuries to “improve long-term recovery.” This passion goes beyond the playing field for Namath, who suffered several concussions while in the NFL.
“It seems to me that concerning traumatic brain injuries, we don’t hear about it other than sports,” Namath said. “And the families affected – whether it be car accidents or work related – we’re trying to help.”
Namath is gearing up for an Oct. 10 gala at Cipriani’s on 42nd Street in New York City to support the research center’s work.