NEW YORK -- What a difference a half-century makes in the "guarantee" business.
Attending the same charity event Tuesday night as Joe Namath, New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson made a prediction for the upcoming season that was decidedly less audacious than the one issued by Namath in 1969.
Wilkerson guaranteed the Jets will improve upon last season's 5-11 record.
"The team will definitely be positive and do more things better than we did last year, I can guarantee that," Wilkerson told reporters before the United Way of New York City Gridiron Gala, which attracted current and former players. "We'll have more wins than we did last year and that's a fact."
Wilkerson made his comments with Namath in the same room. It was Namath, of course, who guaranteed the Jets would beat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. They did, recording one of the biggest upsets in sports history.
The 73-year-old Namath wasn't about to make any bold predictions about the current team, forecasted by Vegas oddsmakers as a five-win team in 2017.
Namath had no issue with the low expectations.
"You have to earn respect and that's by going out and winning some games, showing something, and getting some teams wary of you," he said. "Right now, I don't think there are many teams wary of the Jets. ... Until they start playing well, who's going to respect them?"
Namath believes the Jets have the talent to win more than five games, but he hinted that coaching could be an issue. He noted that coach Todd Bowles made several changes on his staff.
"That might be something positive because what we saw last year with the breakdowns defensively ... 'What are they doing?' We expect to see better performances."