- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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Tony Sparano has been on the job for only two days, but he got his first taste of New York criticism -- and it came from the New York Jets' most famous fan/detractor, Joe Namath.
The legendary Jet made his feelings abundantly clear: He didn't like the hiring of Sparano, the former Miami Dolphins coach, as offensive coordinator.
"I'm stumped. I am stumped," Namath said Thursday on his weekly spot on "The Michael Kay Show" on 1050 ESPN New York. "Aye, aye, aye, aye. Let's ask the world: Do you like the choice of Tony Sparano as offensive coordinator?"
"I've watched Tony work down here with the Dolphins and I thought he carried himself very well through all the adversity and all, but other than having called some plays with the Dallas Cowboys, I don't know what his credentials are for an offensive coordinator," said Namath, who lives in South Florida.
Namath suggested that Sparano was hired simply because he's a Bill Parcells disciple, as is Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum.
"This is the football fraternity, the coaching fraternity, the GMs, with their friends and all," Namath said. "That's basically what I think about Tony getting that job. But credentials as an offensive coordinator? I don't see it. I hope he's a great one, but I don't see it."
Namath made the comments on the 43-year anniversary of the Jets' historic win over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, which cemented his legend because of his famous guarantee.
Technically, Namath is correct, Sparano never has held the title of offensive coordinator, but he called plays for the Cowboys in 2006 -- under Parcells. That year, the Cowboys finished fourth in scoring and fifth in total offense.
From Dallas, Sparano went to Miami, where he was heavily involved in the offense but didn't call plays. In nearly four seasons, the Dolphins never finished better than 15th in scoring and 12th in total offense.
Sparano was hired Thursday to replace Brian Schottenheimer, a change that took about a New York minute. Namath defended Schottenheimer, calling him "the fall guy" for the Jets' disappointing 8-8 season. Namath said the offense was undermined by poor execution, not bad coaching.
"He's not a bad offensive coordinator by any stretch," Namath said. "Did anyone comment on the failure of (defensive coordinator) Mike Pettine after having his defense really go backward this year as opposed to the last two years?"
Namath may not be done with Schottenheimer, who will interview Friday for the coordinator job at Alabama, Namath's alma mater. Schottenheimer is thought to be the frontrunner for the job on Nick Saban's staff.
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com.
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