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Saturday, April 30, 2011
Alabama Greg and Broadway Joe

By Rich Cimini

Forty-six years ago, the Jets drafted a quarterback from Alabama named Joe Namath. He wore No. 12 and made it famous.

Namath captured the admiration of Greg McElroy, who grew up idolizing the legendary quarterback. Now McElroy has a son, Greg, who played quarterback for Alabama, wore No. 12 for the Crimson Tide and was drafted Saturday by the Jets.

Kind of neat, huh?

The Jets drafted McElroy in the seventh round -- lower than he expected -- but he sounded like he had just won a Powerball lottery. McElroy said he wore No. 12 at Alabama because of his dad's fondness for Namath ("his favorite player of all time)", and now he's a member of the Jets ... well, it's kind of storybook.

"I can't believe I'm going to be able to follow in the same footsteps as he did," McElroy said on a conference call with reporters. "Just to have the opportunity to play for the New York Jets, it's a dream come true. I literally cannot think of a better place to go."

McElroy and Namath have met several times over the years. Namath still follows his alma mater closely, and he called McElroy when the former Texas prep star committed to Alabama. A year later, they met at a game, and McElroy called it "an unbelievable moment ... I haven't forgotten it."

McElroy gave Tide fans some unforgettable moments, leading Alabama to a national championship in 2009. He finished his career 24-3 as a starter, with 20 TD passes and only five interceptions last season. He set a number of school records, including completion percentage (71.0).

He dropped in the draft because of his size and because he doesn't have a rifle arm, but he attracted the Jets because of his intangibles. McElroy carried a 3.9 GPA, scored a 42 out of 50 on his Wonderlic test and became a Rhodes Scholar candidate.

"If he were in this room today, he'd be the smartest guy in here," Jets VP of college scouting Joey Clinkscales said at the post-draft news conference.

McElroy said he had only a minimal amount of contact with the Jets throughout the pre-draft process, so he was a bit taken aback when they called in the seventh round. He was the 12th and last quarterback drafted, but he wasn't complaining.

He'll have to find a new number, though -- 12 is retired.