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New York Jets: Franchise player

8/18/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Readers' pick: Joe Namath, QB

Four decades later, when you think of the New York Jets, you still think of Joe Namath.

Jets fans whose fathers weren't even born when Namath made his famous Super Bowl III guarantee know all about it. They've seen the slow-motion trot into the Orange Bowl tunnel, his finger defiantly wagging No. 1 after beating the favored Baltimore Colts.

Namath received the most votes in our poll, finishing ahead of defensive end Mark Gastineau and running back Curtis Martin, who last year had the team's MVP award named after him. Namath's favorite target, Don Maynard, was a distant fourth.

But there was little doubt Broadway Joe would be chosen the greatest Jet.

His celebrity magnetism and majestic passes drew fans to the AFL and forced the NFL to acknowledge the brazen start-up. Namath helped revolutionize the passing game. He was the first to throw for 4,000 yards in a season -- in 14 games, no less.

"Some guys have had a lot of accomplishments," John Madden said while criticizing Namath's omission from the NFL's 75th anniversary team. "But with Joe, here's a guy who made a league."

Let alone a franchise.