Thursday, August 5, 2010
Joe Namath: Jets' swagger is 'justified'
By Rich Cimini ESPNNewYork.com
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- On a rainy day at the New York Jets' training camp, legendary quarterback Joe Namath brought the sunshine, saying the team's Super Bowl talk is "justified" and expressing confidence that holdout cornerback Darrelle Revis will be signed to a new contract.
"To me, we have the most legitimate contender we've had. ... We have a team we're expecting a lot out of this year," Namath told reporters after the rain-shortened morning practice.
The most beloved player in franchise history said he "never dreamed" the Jets' Super Bowl drought would reach 42 years. He's had his heart ripped out many times over the years, the star-crossed Jets always crumbling whenever expectations got too heavy, but Namath is buying into Rex Ryan's bravado for the coming season.
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Asked his opinion of Ryan & Co.'s public discussions of their Super Bowl aspirations, Namath said simply: "Justified."
Namath, 67, gushed about quarterback Mark Sanchez, the top-ranked defense and the high-profile additions of LaDainian Tomlinson and Jason Taylor. Perhaps the best player on the team -- Revis -- still hasn't reported to camp, but Namath predicted a happy ending to the contract mess.
He almost sounded like he had some inside knowledge, saying he talked to "some important people" in the organization.
"I'm not worried at all," Namath said. "I'm confident he's going to be here. I know Mr. [Woody] Johnson wants him, I know Rex wants him, we all want him here. Just being around the last day or so, my confidence has grown tremendously, believing we'll have Revis."
As of early afternoon, however, there appeared to be little or no movement in the Revis talks, according to sources.
If Namath has any concern about the team, it's the left-guard position. He said he was "a little confused, upset" when the team released perennial Pro Bowl selection Alan Faneca. The offensive-line play, he said, will go a long way toward determining the outcome of the season. Second-year backup Matt Slauson and rookie Vladimir Ducasse (second-round pick) are competing for Faneca's old job.
"I still don't know exactly why he's departed," Namath said of Faneca. "Whoever steps into that spot will have a heavy load to carry."
During a 15-minute chat with reporters, Namath touched on several other topics.
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On the development of quarterback Mark Sanchez: "He's won the team over because he works so hard. The man wants to win."
On former Miami Dolphins pass-rusher Jason Taylor joining the Jets: "I said to him [on the practice field], 'It's good to see you in green -- the kind we wear, not that funky green in South Florida.' I feel like I've been watching Jason Taylor play most of my life. What a player. I hope he stays healthy because he brings a lot to this team."
On whether the current Jets are showing more confidence than his 1968 team, which won Super Bowl III: "They have more swagger than we had, that's for sure. It's a reflection of Rex."
On the importance of getting off to a good start: "As soon as we lose a game or two, things are going to start going a little haywire. Losses have a tendency to bring out the ugliness in a locker room."
On his visit to camp, Namath bumped into linebacker Bart Scott, who was wearing a T-Shirt that read: "Known To Do The Impossible Like Broadway Joe" -- a line from a rap song. When Namath saw the shirt, he laughed.
"It's not impossible," Namath said.
He proved it 42 years ago. He believes now can be like then.
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.More from ESPNNewYork.com »