Another sports season comes to a close. Yes, the party’s over until next year. I loved pro football in my late teens to early 30s. My team for years was the NY Jets. I will admit, it was Joe Namath. Totally. Not only did I not miss one of their games, but I also watched all other teams during each season. There were great quarterbacks, wide receivers, defensive ends, and linebackers during this era of football.
Namath in his 4th year took the NY Jets to the Superbowl in a stunning win over the favored Baltimore Colts, 16-7. It was amazingly exciting! One of my classmates, Vicki, was caught up in the football fever as much as I was, and we teamed up to watch the games on Sunday afternoons and Monday nights. I had a pair of neon yellow bikini undies that I would gleefully toss in the middle of the living room and yell, “Offsides!” or “Holding!”, all of which would put her into hysterics.
In 1971 I wrangled around and bought tickets for a game in St. Louis (two hours from where I lived) for the Jets vs. the Cardinals. I was beside myself with anticipation, plus anxiety knowing the folks, myself, and a cousin were driving to Colorado Springs for a vacation. I begged and pleaded, using every trick in the book of promises with Dad to wait one day, just one more day to leave so I could go to St. Louis to the game. No sir, we had to leave that Monday morning, no, not Tuesday, but Monday morning. That night I sat in Colorado Springs holding the tickets with huge tears in my eyes. Another chance meeting blown to bits.
But wait! Now living in Arizona, an exhibition game in Phoenix came to town with the NY Jets and Minnesota Vikings on August 9, 1975. Guess who was there besides Joe? Me of course, and only a few rows up from the Jets sidelines. I spent most of the time holding onto the chain-link fence watching Joe, a few feet away, warm up, chew bubble gum, and oh my gosh, was it a heated aspiration, or did he truly look over at me once, very briefly, and wink? It didn’t matter, I was already a puddle of wax.
But wait! A good friend of mine was in the Coast Guard and living in Alexandria, VA. In July 1976, I flew out to visit. Karen and I bought train tickets to NYC and stayed at a friend’s small apartment who happened to be Howard Cosell’s stockbroker and also knew Joe Namath. My friend was kind enough, with a lot of wrangling on my part again, to give me a letter of introduction to the doorman at Joe’s apartment. Karen and I went shopping, I had my hair cut into a fashionable current Dorothy Hamill style, and off we went in a taxi that dropped us in front of the tall apartment building. I strode right up to the doorman with Karen lingering in the background. I just knew I could get his autograph and a photo with him. Just knew it.
The doorman was friendly, read the short note, and took off his hat. “I am so sorry to say, Mr. Namath is in Montreal at the summer Olympics.” “Oh, rats,” I said thank you and turned around. Karen rushed up, “Well, well, well?” I simply replied, “Joe does not realize what he has missed.” So much for that.
When Joe left the NY Jets, so did I. Even though he played his final year in 1977 with the Rams, it was just not the same. I bemoaned for some time, closed up my scrapbook, and shelved it.
But wait! Star Wars hit the big screen in 1977 and as I sat in my seat bemoaning once again, and how much I disliked Sci-Fi, suddenly Han Solo appeared and I perked up and whispered, “Who is that guy?”