We interrupt the New York Jets' coach and general-manager searches to bring you this important date in Jets history:
This is the 50th anniversary of Joe Namath signing with the Jets. It happened Jan. 2, 1965, the day after he played for Alabama in the Orange Bowl. Not only was it a landmark moment for the Jets, but it changed the landscape of pro football. Namath, arguably the top player in college, spurned the vaunted NFL to sign with an AFL team. At the time, it was totally radical.
Excepts from the Associated Press story that appeared in newspapers across the county:
"Miami Beach -- Brawny Joe Namath, son of a struggling Beaver Falls, Pa., steelworker, signed the contract yesterday that made him the richest rookie in the history of pro football -- and probably any other sport.
"The Horatio Alger story of the former shoeshine boy who led Alabama to the national college championship was climaxed at a luxury hotel in Miami Beach. Here, he concluded a deal with the New York Jets of the American Football League that reportedly will bring him $400,000 for three years' work.
"David A. Werblin, president of the Jets, said the details of the fabulous contract were considered privileged information, but he added that, 'I'm sure it pays the largest amount ever given to a young athlete in any sport.'
"And the cat-quick Namath, he said, was a bargain at any price.
"'We feel that in getting Joe,' Werblin told a news conference, 'we got the No. 1 college football player in America, and with him we will give the New York fans the finest team in America. This is the start toward many championship years for the Jets.'"
Not exactly. But they got one.