Namath stepped before the crowd, and although his Jets were enormous underdogs to the Baltimore Colts, he said:“We’re gonna win the game. I guarantee it.”
He wasn’t trying to cosmically inspire the Jets, sequestered 30 miles away in Fort Lauderdale.If anything, he was probably trying to play games with the Colts, who represented the football establishment, an old guard that didn’t understand spontaneous comments made by 25-year-old quarterbacks in banquet halls.Mark Kriegel, the author of “Namath, A Biography,” said Namath had privately been telling friends not to bet the points that weekend but to bet the odds, which at the time stood 7-1 against the Jets winning. The quarterback had watched plenty of film on the Colts and knew they could be beaten.“My argument is he set the Colts up beautifully,” Kriegel said. “Everything he learned as a teenage pool hustler in [his home town] Beaver Falls [Pa.], he put to use on Super Bowl week. He conned the Colts out of a Super Bowl.”The guarantee of victory, while spontaneous, was just a part of that larger plan.
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