In 1965, Joe Namath retired his crimson jersey for a green one when the Jets selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the AFL Draft. Fifty-four years later, another Alabama product made the same swap.
The Jets selected defensive lineman Quinnen Williams with the third overall pick in April's draft and Namath is happy not only to add Williams to the Green & White but also that New York continues to have a shade of crimson.
"The best pass defense in the world is pressure, getting on that quarterback," Namath said at United Way's Gridiron Gala in Manhattan. "If you can't protect him — that's where winning and losing starts, up front with the O-line and the D-line — it's going to be a long season. It's a team effort and I know Sam will do well if he can get an offensive line that can block guys. There aren't many guys like Quinnen."
The 2019 first-round pick was a frequent flyer in opposing backfields last year as he recorded eight sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss in his one season as a starter. Like many signal-callers, Namath believes pressure up the middle affects the quarterback's play more so than an outside rush.
"It's very annoying," he said. "It can get into your head if it's done consistently well and when you look at the tape, seeing who you're getting ready to play, you see that kind of effort that Quinnen brings to the table and some of these other great defensive linemen."
While Namath won't line up against Williams, he expects early production from the rookie because he's cut from the same cloth as the 21-year-old. They're both part of a rich bloodline that runs from Tuscaloosa, AL to the Jets' base of operations in the New York area.
"Well, first of all, it's always more fun to win than not and Alabama does some winning," Namath said. "I'm very thankful for our tradition, coach Nick Saban, the work ethic, the process that the players commit to and go through. Quinnen is a fine man and he knows how to get out there and work. If it rubs off on some of the other players in how he prepares, we're going to continue to improve. Look for the Jets to get better and maybe win a championship sometime soon."