Joe Namath is one of the most renowned quarterbacks in New York Jets history, having led his team to a remarkable upset victory in Super Bowl III against the Baltimore Colts, the only championship in franchise history.
Broadway Joe was one of the great quarterbacks of his era, and he continues to make appearances around football, more than 40 years since his retirement.
While professional football contracts weren’t nearly as sizable during Namath’s career in the AFL and NFL as they are today, the 78-year-old still managed to accumulate a lofty fortune.
Early Life and College Career
Joseph William Namath was born and raised in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, nearby Pittsburgh, to parents Rose and János Andrew Namath. Namath was a standout baseball, basketball and football player at Beaver Falls High School, and even received multiple offers from Major League Baseball teams to join big leagues straight out of school.
Despite the allure of baseball, Namath opted to play college football at the University of Alabama under head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. As a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide, Namath won a national championship in 1964.
NFL and AFL Career
Namath was drafted in the first round as the 12th overall pick in the 1965 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, but was also selected as the first overall pick in the startup American Football League Draft.
The Cardinals agreed to pay Namath’s lofty salary demands on the condition he sit out Alabama’s Orange Bowl matchup, to which the quarterback responded by playing in the Orange Bowl, earning the game’s MVP award, and signing a monster deal the Jets. He would go on to win AFL Rookie of the Year, starting off his professional football career in style.
Namath earned his “Broadway Joe” moniker after in 1965 after being featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s magazine, a nickname which stuck throughout his entire football career, and even into retirement.
The Jets, led by Namath’s three touchdown passes, won the AFL Title against the Oakland Raiders in 1968.
Namath would then go on to lead the Jets to the playoffs and Super Bowl III in Miami, Florida, against the heavily-favored Baltimore Colts of the National Football League, who were dubbed as the greatest team of all time.
Namath and the Jets stunned the Colts and the quarterback earned Most Valuable Player (MVP) honors, despite not having thrown or rushed for a touchdown.
Knee injuries plagued Namath in his later career, and limited the American football player to just 28 games from 1970-73 and he nearly facilitated a move out of New York City to join the Chicago Winds in the World Football League, but his demands proved too lofty.
Namath left the Jets in 1977, signing on with the Los Angeles Rams at the end of his career, retiring at the conclusion of the season.
Namath was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985 after a 13-year career that saw him throw 173 touchdowns and 220 interceptions. He was ranked No. 96 on Sporting News’ list of the 100 Greatest Football Players of All Time.
During the highlight of his career, Namath was loving the limelight and started an acting career. He started the Joe Namath Show in 1969. He followed that up by appearing in movies like C.C. and Company and The Waverly Wonders. Namath also made cameo appearances on a handful of popular television series’, including The Love Boat, The Brady Bunch, The A-Team, The Simpsons, Here’s Lucy and Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.
The former American football quarterback met his wife, aspiring actress Deborah Mays, while at a voice class in 1983. The two married in 1984 and had two children, Jessica and Olivia. The pair divorced in 2000.
In 2003, Namath showed up drunk to a Jets’ game, and during a sideline interview with ESPN’s Suzy Kolber regarding the Jets’ struggles, Namath responded saying, “I want to kiss you. I couldn’t care less about the team struggling.”
The nationally televised segment served as a wake-up call for the former footballer, who had battled alcoholism throughout his life, and he checked into an alcoholism treatment program shortly after, and has given up drinking.
Joe Namath Net Worth
The former New York Jets superstar made a fortune during his professional career as a football star and an actor, and according to Celebrity Net Worth, Joe Namath’s net worth is an estimated $25 million.
While Namath’s career certainly had its peaks and troughs, the gunslinger was built for the limelight and reveled during the brightest moments of the game. He stayed busy on and off the field, and built quite the fortune for himself in retirement.