HBO Documentary Explores the Namath Mystique

by | January 28, 2012 at 2:10 PM | TV News

Joe Namath (Photo: AP)

We are awash with star quarterbacks these days — it seems most teams in the NFL have one.

With so much talent around, how are we supposed to judge who’s best — not only today, but of all-time?

Or, more to the point — and the subject of this story — where do we position Joe Namath in the pantheon of football greats? As a new documentary on Namath reveals, Namath’s career might not have been the longest, or his statistics the highest, but for reasons of pure stardom or celebrity, he has to rank at or near the top.

It’s a matter of trying to measure the immeasurable — a celebrity’s impact on his era. Based on that criteria, Namath’s impact transcended sports, as this great new documentary amply demonstrates. The doc, titled simply “Namath,” premieres Saturday night (Jan. 28) at 9/8c on HBO.

In his heyday, Namath was a star on par with only a few other media figures — Muhammad Ali being one who comes immediately to mind. What made Namath that way is explored fully in the film, which traces his origins from tiny Beaver Falls, Pa., to Super Bowl stardom with the 1969 champion New York Jets.

Joe is interviewed at length in the movie, which also includes interviews with former teammates, relatives, old friends and sportswriters who covered him for decades.

Certainly, they go over his qualifications as a cultural icon, but they are also eloquent on the subject of his football talent. On that topic, one of our favorite parts of the movie (which we got to watch recently) was one that dealt with the power of his throwing arm.

You can watch that clip right here, courtesy of Youtube:

You think today’s young stars live large? One of the subjects explored in the film is Joe’s lifestyle in Manhattan as a young, wealthy football star (at the time, he was the highest-paid athlete in football and possibly in all sports). In still photos, the doc takes you on a tour of Joe’s supermod bechelor bad on Manhattan’s Upper East Side — and also reports on how Joe’s mother reacted to it.

Watch this clip here:

Want more? Then we recommend that you watch or record “Namath” tonight. And you don’t have to be a Jets fan to love it.

“Namath” premieres tonight (Saturday, Jan. 28) at 9/8c on HBO.