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The Guarantee refers to a chest-thumping declaration by former New York Jets quarterback Joseph Namath ahead of Super Bowl III that they would win the game against the Baltimore Colts. Namath’s guarantee attracted wrath from his coach and fellow players but he made amends by putting in an extraordinary shift to help the Jets win the fixture. The guarantee, given in a drunken stupor in Miami three days before the showpiece game made Namath a cult hero among Jets fans but it carried a very high risk of backfiring had the more fancied Colts won the game.
Namath Gives the Guarantee</h2.
The Super Bowl was on its third installment having been incepted in 1967, with the Green Bay Packers winning the first two installments. The Jets won the AFL with a record of 11-3 while the Colts dominated the NFL, coming tops with a 13-1 record. They vanquished the Cleveland Browns 34-0 striking fear in the hearts of Jets fans.
Understandably, the Jets were underdogs by a significant margin. The Colts had the best defense in the league and many considered them one of the greatest football teams of all time. Further the NFL was considered much more superior to the AFL and rivalry between the two leagues exacerbated the tension between Super Bowl opponents.
In the days leading up to the game, Colts fans and staff were confident of a win and this fact was not concealed very well. There was a lot of cross talk between the two teams with the Colts being the much louder of the two. This included a dismissive comment by then Colts quarterback Van Brocklin who scoffed at Namath’s supposed inexperience. Namath did not take the comments kindly and this may have contributed to his off-the-cuffs remark.
On the Thursday before the game, Namath was in Miami being honored getting a Player of the Year award from the Miami Touchdown Club. As he stepped to the mic to make his remarks, a Colt’s fan in the crowd shouted something to the effect that the Colts crash the Jets. An agitated and seemingly inebriated Namath retorted, “we’re gonna win the game. I guarantee it.” The gravity of the remark did not sink in until later with newspapers plastering the brash words all over the first page. Jets Coach Weeb Ewbank was furious, but when he confronted Namath about it, the quarter back said calmly that if the Colts needed Namath’s bravado to get motivated for the game, they were already in trouble.
The Game and its Aftermath
Namath immediately got down to making good on his word, putting in a splendid shift that tore apart the Colts’ much respected defense. Combining greatly with the hard running fullback Matt Snell, Namath orchestrated a Jets rally that saw them lead the Colts 13-0 by the third period. A semi-injured Johnny Unitas, sent on to save the sinking Colts’ boat could not change their fate, with Jets winning 16-7.
Namath won game MVP having racked up 17 completions in 28 attempts for 2016 yards. The win for the Jets was also a win for the AFL as the league proved that it could compete on equal footing with the NFL. The two leagues merged soon after to form the modern day NFL.