Namath Star Glows Brightly In HBO Project

Fifteen stories high in a Manhattan screening room of the HBO building, Joe Namath was the center of attention last Wednesday evening - nothing new for one of the most charismatic sports figures to grace the athletic stage. HBO Sports in collaboration with NFL Films premiered "NAMATH", to a private invitation only audience approximating one hundred.

Former New York Jets teammates Emerson Boozer and Mobile's own Richard Caster attended along with another Alabama great, Marty Lyons. Namath's daughter Jessica, longtime lawyer/confidant Jimmy Walsh, friends, media members and HBO officials filled up the theater.

The ninety-minute introspective documentary chronologically traces the life journey from the youthful days in his native Beaver Falls, PA to matriculating to The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa to competing under the bright lights of New York City and beyond. Transcending the game, his star power merged with the television era to produce an unprecedented empire of endorsements. Madison Avenue pursued his signature for commercial endeavors with more vigilance than blitzing defenders.

Joe Namath was the darling of the football world on January 12, 1969. Sporting a Fu Manchu moustache, long hair, white shoes and a personality brimming with confidence, the generation's role model wearing cleats defeated the heavily favored NFL Champion Baltimore Colts 16-7 in Super Bowl III. Wild celebration ensued across the nation as every underdog for subsequent decades was emboldened with hope.

Admirers rushed to purchase tickets on his Ferris wheel of life. If you couldn't be gridiron royalty, the next best option was living vicariously through the women he dated, entertainment opportunities he experienced and places he traveled. Rock star sized crowds shadowed every public appearance. Everyone wanted to meet "Joe Willie".

Former Alabama teammate Gaylon McCollough, a renowned plastic surgeon, deftly expounds on the Tuscaloosa tenure under the tutelage of Paul W. Bryant. Prior to suffering numerous leg injuries, Namath was a fleet-footed and elusive athlete. The audience is treated to rare high school and college footage revealing those traits. McCollough states "One of the tragedies in American sports is that most people never had the chance to see a healthy Joe Namath play, to see how good he really was. If you had ever seen him at his best, you'd never forget it."

Just as the Ferris wheel view moves from the pinnacle to the bottom depths in the rotation, so does life. The project explores not only the cherished moments but also some of the trials and tribulations the sports hero endured through the decades. For those long-time ticket holders of the past, they should encourage others to purchase a seat for the HBO Sports/NFL Films Documentary "NAMATH" debuting tonight, January 28th at 8:00 PM CT. Check your listings for additional air dates in January and February on HBO, HBO2 and HBO On Demand.

Wednesday was the initial viewing for Namath as well. Media members gathered after the NYC premiere to visit with the iconic personality "Broadway Joe".


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