What Does Joe Namath Think?

Photo: AP Photo/Harry Harris

You’re on record saying Sanchez should be the starter, yes?
I gotta say, though, I haven’t seen a fellow like Tebow in a long time. He’s a religious man like myself. When you look at the way he has carried himself on and off the field, he’s conducted himself beautifully. We all love him. But the thing is, he’s just not all that gifted a pocket passer. That is far from saying he isn’t useful. He has a place on the team. But mostly as a runner.

What was your first thought when you heard the Jets traded for him?
I was quite surprised. But then again, that’s the future of football. You’re seeing more and more backup quarterbacks turn out to be runners.

Have you seen this sort of media crush involving the Jets since you played here?
It’s the most I’ve seen. It can be a lot to deal with, not just for those two guys but the whole team. When you’re getting that much attention, you tend not to want it, but when you’re not getting it, you want it. A lot of this is keeping fans interested, stirring controversy. But if you’re not one of the players involved, you might not get the back-patting you’re used to.

You know Sanchez better than Tebow. Have you given him any advice?
I try not to volunteer unsolicited advice. I’m not sure these kids need it, at least when it comes to media attention. They’ve been tutored on how to handle it, and handle themselves, since high school. I had more trouble with it. I’m honored by my fame, but it can be a burden sometimes, sacrificing your civil liberties. You don’t want to complain, but it can get your dander up. But I’m luckier: Every time someone stops me in a supermarket, it’s with a smile.

Is there anything Sanchez needs to improve with his game?
Sometimes he makes decisions he shouldn’t make. People then go after him, and that sort of criticism can weigh on a man. I know it weighs on Mark. But it’s only a problem if Mark lets it be. He’d be wise to ignore all of it. I had to stop reading about myself. I couldn’t handle it. One day, I said, “Wait a minute. Look at me. I’m thinking more about what someone says than what I’m doing. And I know what I’m doing!” That helped. The negative stuff can mess up your mind.

Namath will be hosting a “Monday Night Football” pregame call-in show at 6 p.m. every Monday night on 98.6 ESPN Radio this season.

What Does Joe Namath Think?