Joe Namath has been watching Plaxico Burress for several years, and in him he sees a wide receiver that reminds him a lot of Braylon Edwards -- and that's not a flattering comparison coming from Namath.
The New York Jets' legendary quarterback was occasionally critical of Edwards during his two seasons with the Jets. So, no, Namath isn't swept up in Plaxico Mania, saying Burress would be "damn lucky" if he makes it through the season.
"When I see Burress, certainly in the past, and Edwards, their route running and adjusting, I didn't like it -- and I still don't," Namath told ESPNNewYork.com Tuesday. "I'll be surprised if Burress and (quarterback Mark) Sanchez click well and I'll be even more surprised if Burress, after being laid off for two years and change, is going to make it through the season."
Burress, 34, spent 20 months in jail for illegal-weapons possession, missing the 2009 and 2010 seasons. He signed a one-year, $3 million contract on the eve of training camp, replacing Edwards as one of the Jets' starting receivers.
Namath believes the time away from football, coupled with Burress' age, will be almost impossible to overcome.
"It catches up to the guys who haven't missed any time over the last two years," said Namath, who was in New York to promote Topps 2011 football cards. "It's Lady Luck, and I think it will (catch up to him), given the age factor and his position."
"We're already talking about the feet -- the ankles, the feet," he continued, referring to the sprained ankle that forced Burress to miss the first preseason game. "There's a lot of running in a long season. I don't see it happening."
Namath is an unabashed Jets fan, rarely speaking ill of his team. He wishes the best for Burress, who has three receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown in two preseason games.
"I hope he makes All-Pro, but the realistic side of me ... . The reality is, he'll be damn lucky if he makes it through the season," Namath said.
The Hall-of-Fame quarterback described Burress and Edwards as undisciplined route runners that make it difficult for the quarterback to make precise throws. In Burress, the Jets believe they have a huge target (Burress is 6-foot-5) that will actually help Sanchez's accuracy because of his ability to outmuscle smaller cornerbacks.
Namath agreed with that, but he also believes Burress tends to alter his routes, changing stride. He said Edwards sometimes slowed down when the ball was in the air.
"I've seen that in the past that I didn't like. I didn't like it with Edwards and I don't like it with Burress, especially when (Giants quarterback) Eli Manning was in his second and third year," Namath said, a reference to Burress' first two seasons with the New York Giants, 2005 and 2006.
Overall, Namath likes the direction of the Jets, calling them one of the best teams in the AFC. He's a big believer in offensive-line play -- that's the old quarterback in him -- and he has some concerns about the Jets.
"I'm optimistic about the season, of course, because of where we've come from and the guys we have back, but that optimism ... . As soon as I start to think hard about it, it takes a little hit," he said. "I'm concerned about the offensive-line depth. Who do we have to take the roles of (Wayne) Hunter and (Rob) Turner? I don't know."
Hunter and Turner were the top backups last season, but now Hunter is starting at right tackle and Turner is out for at least two months with a broken ankle.
The Jets' offense struggled in Monday night's 17-3 win over the Giants. Namath believes the lockout, coupled with the additions of two new receivers (Burress and Derrick Mason), are making it hard for the offense.
"I know they're not as sharp as they want to be," he said. "For whatever reasons, they're just not there yet. They've got to get better and they know it."
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com.