Namath, Joe (Joseph William Namath)nāˈməth, 1943–, American football player, b. Beaver Falls, Pa. Namath's brilliance as a quarterback at the Univ. of Alabama earned him a three-year no-cut contract for $387,000 from the New York Jets before he had played a single minute of professional football. Namath's high-priced deal sparked an all-out contest for new players between the National and American football leagues and ultimately produced a merger between the two. Although hampered by knee and shoulder injuries, Namath led the Jets to a victory in the 1969 Superbowl game and in 1967 passed for a total of 4,007 yards, a season record. He retired from football in 1977, spending his last season with the Los Angeles Rams. In 1985 he was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame. Candid, outspoken, and controversial, he was nicknamed "Broadway Joe" for his fast and free lifestyle. He appeared in several motion pictures.
See biography by M. Kriegel (2004).