All of the year's worth of memories and quotes and celebrations come together finally on Saturday when the New York Jets, Jets Nation and fans of the NFL all take time out to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Jets' victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III on Jan. 12, 1969.
"We all felt that if we didn't beat ourselves with turnovers, if we played our game, we would win," quarterback Joe Namath recalled at the MetLife Stadium dinner celebrating that game back on Oct. 13. "We went into the game confidently. I remember walking out on that field with Jim Hudson and I walked out into the end zone before they introduced the defense, and I looked at Jim and said, 'This is our kind of game, man,' And Jim said yeah. And it was our kind of game."
It was a game that came during a dizzying, disorienting time in late Sixties. Richard Nixon had just become president after a tumultuous campaign. The Vietnam War was still raging, as were protests back home. Apollo missions were circling the Earth and then the Moon. Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In and 60 Minutes made their TV debuts. 2001: A Spacy Odyssey dominated the big screen.
Stability? Well, in sports there was always the NFL, which had become a media and cultural monolith. And the league's teams were expected to continue their domination of the recently created AFL-NFL World Championship Game — the Super Bowl — far into the future.
Except that on the aforementioned date in early 1969, at Miami's Orange Bowl, upheaval, embodied by the green-and-white-clad upstarts from the American Football League, visited the football world as well.
Namath "guaranteed" victory, then he and the Jets went out and rocked the sports world and the country with their 16-7 triumph over the Colts. The win still stands today as an icon of new school over old guard, underdog over favorite, can-do over don't-even-try.
The spirit of that game was relived at the dinner in October, and fans roared anew the next day in honor of those conquering Jets Legends during halftime ceremonies of this year's Jets-Colts game, won appropriately enough by the Jets, 42-34. On Saturday, on the golden anniversary, on the big 5-0, we can all remember one more time.
"When we get together, it's just like yesteryear," quarterback Joe Namath said at the anniversary dinner at MetLife Stadium back on Oct. 13 to reminisce and celebrate that truly remarkable team one more time. "This is like 1968 and 1969 with this group of guys, our teammates. ... We had a unity, and to this day when we look at each other, man, it's like we've been together all these years. We won it and I'm thankful, we're thankful to be a part of the jets organization today."
"It's crazy, 50 years, for sure," Namath said at the dinner. "But whenever we get together, it's just like yesteryear. This is like 1968, 1969, this group of guys, these teammates. We had a unity, and to this day, when we look at each other, man, it's like we've been together all these years. We won it and I'm thankful, yes, I'm thankful. We're thankful to be a part of the Jets organization today.
"And what we've got to do now is win another one. That's what we've got to do.