Joe Namath Enshrinement speech
Joe Namath Enshrinement Speech 1985
Presenter: Larry Bruno
Thank you, Jim. Members of the clergy, Honorable Mayor, newly inducted members of the Hall of Fame, distinguished guests and ladies and gentlemen. I am sure it is the dream of every professional football player to someday be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Today that dream comes true. Gentlemen from the City of Champions, Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, let me congratulate all of you. Joe, the people of Beaver Falls and Beaver Valley want you to know they are very proud of you especially for not forgetting where you were born and raised. I am also sure the late Coach Paul Bryant is somewhere up there looking down today wearing his famous houndstooth hat and if he could send you a message he probably would say in his deep southern voice “way to go Joe, be brave. “Joe, I want to publicly thank you for selecting me to introduce you today. This was one of the greatest events of my life. Again, thanks Joe.
If I had to choose one word to describe the fabulous career of Joe Namath, that word would be confidence. When Joe played football for Beaver Falls High School the entire football team believed whatever play Joe called it would work, they would make it work because they knew Joe had confidence in them. A few years later when Joe was playing professional football for the NY Jets, and the Jets were playing the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, Joe made this statement, "I guarantee we will beat the Colts.” This was not a cocky or brass statement. The Jets were a 17-point underdog but again when Joe said we could win, his teammates believed they could win. Just like in high school. The Jets did win that Super Bowl III and pulled one of the greatest upsets in modern football. Incidentally, the quarterback of the Colts that day was Johnny Unitas, Joe's idol in high school. Joe even wore number 19 in high school and that jersey will be included in the Hall of Fame thanks to the late Athletic Director, Bill Ross. If Joe continues to have that same kind of confidence in his new field of entertainment, maybe someday we will be watching the academy awards program and the emcee will say the envelope please and the winner is ladies and gentlemen, Joe Namath.
Thank you, thank you. Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, youngsters and old timers alike, it is great to be here. This is truly a thrill for me, but I want you to know that I really am not here today because of old Joe alone. It was a team effort every step of the way and in this little talk or this little chat I am going to have to you right now, I am going to thank many people because they are the ones’ responsible for me being here.
First of all, it starts at home. My family is here today, I don't want to look down at them right here because I will start crying probably. Anyway, it starts at home. I want to thank my family for the love they have given me over the years. Even when I was a little guy all the way to now, they have been on my side, close to me giving me courage, helping me. My brothers Bob, Frank, and John taught me how to throw the rock, taught me pretty good. My sister, she was probably the best athlete of the group, helped out a heck of a lot too. My mother and father, of course, the love that they gave me as a child and now as an adult is deeply cherished. So, with me they are sharing this honor today, I promise you they are great football fans and they are thrilled to be here as well.
Coach Bruno the gentlemen who just introduced me, helped me immensely in my high school life. It is carried over to now. You know that when a boy is in school 16, 17, 15 there are a lot of directions he may go in. I was headed in some directions that could have been the wrong directions. Well, Coach Bruno helped me a heck of a lot, steered me right. Told me one day in a meeting, told our whole team, he said “fellows if you don't dream about it, it will never happen, but you can't just dream about it, you have to go out and make it happen, you have to work hard." With that in mind, I dreamt of a high school championship and we won it, we went out and worked for it and got it. At the University of Alabama, where I was lucky enough to go to school and find a new family, we won the championship because we worked hard, we tried for it, our goals were high. At the University of Alabama, I was mighty lucky to be working under a gentleman named Paul Bryant. Coach Bryant, Mrs. Bryant, wherever you are, we miss you. When I got to the University of Alabama there were some ladies down there that kind of adopted me, not the young ladies now I mean, no the young ladies didn't adopt me, but there were three ladies and they helped me feel at home there, the whole State of Alabama helped me feel at home there, to this day I go back and I feel like I'm at home, it is my second home, Miss Asbury, Ms. Kraut and Ms. Birchfield were second, third and fourth mothers to me and God knows I appreciated that. There was a lot of help I received from them and I needed it. My teammates from Alabama, I want you guys to know wherever you are, I love you, I miss you and I'll see you soon and thank you for the help. Again, I wouldn't be here today without the days we spent together working on the field ... wanting to quit sometimes, but Coach Bryant wouldn't let us. Fighting, winning and sometimes loosing. Going through the ups and downs. Thank you guys and I will see all you around sometime soon.
Before I left Alabama, let me tell you this, Coach Bryant said ''look Joe, you are getting ready to go into Pro Football, you know what kind of people you are going to be working with?” and I said “no sir” and he said ''You sure better" consider this because it is mighty important the kind of people you are around and the kind of people you are working with in this life. Take that into consideration. Well at the time, I was really interested in the money and I was looking for the best deal. Well, the deals between the NFL and AFL were basically the same when it got down to the wire and actually could have ended up playing in New York even in the National League but a couple of people really swayed my decision, made me choose the NY Jets at1d I am thankful to God for that. One of them is here today, Mr. David A. Werblin, my second father. I believe he's made me part of his family and I love him for it and over the years we have had a lot of ups and downs too, but we are still here, still hanging out and still doing a good job. Because of Mr. Werblin I was able to go to New York City where again I had another coach.
Now, Coach Bruno, Coach Bryant and then Coach Weeb Ewbank. I tell you what, a ball player could not have been luckier. I was a very fortunate young man. Without Weeb's guidence, I could have fell flat on my face and a lot of coaches would have loved to have seen that. But Weeb had a way of handling people, a good way of handling people. I must have played for four or five other head coaches after Weeb and Weeb got smarter and smarter with every head coach I played for. I didn’t realize how sharp Weeb was until after the coach retired. WE all missed him when he retired and hell, I still miss him when he’s not around. Weeb, I want to thank you personally, bud, you kept me together when times were tough, you picked me up. You gave me the courage. You gave me the good football sense to get out there and keep playing and without your help, again, I certainly wouldn’t be here.
The help that we get on the field with other teammates is so important. I see one of my buddies out here right now a guy named Winston Hill. And I want to tell you about Winston Hill. He is an all pro. Winston that's right I'll clap for Winston. Winston and the rest of the guys on the team, we believed in ourselves sure ... we believed in one another and that's what got us over the hump. We won the championship and we owe a debt of gratitude to the rest of the league - the AFL I'm talking about. If that AFL wouldn't have fought those early years in 1960, '61 on through, before I got there, I don't know where I would have been. So, Winston, myself and my teammates because we are champions is sparsely because of the old AFL and the old players of the AFL, thank you. Jackie Kemp, thank you - all you guys.
The fellows that were nice enough not only to play us but to fight and start the AFL we players owe a debt of gratitude to and I humbly thank you for the opportunity to play professional football. Hampton is out Frank is out here, Ramos and Timmy, we had guys from the NY Jets who come into town today. Mr. Hirsch flew in from Saratoga to visit, I tell you this is a wonderful experience having friends here, having family here sharing this experience makes it really worth---well l it makes it worth everything. The entire NY Jets organization, Mr. Hess, I would like to thank all of them right now. Wish them luck this year and I will be pulling for them and I may even be leaning their way when we are doing the games on television. I how it doesn't get me in trouble.
I couldn't go without thanking a lot of people. People felt that my last year with the Rams was a bad move, but I tell you what, it was a great experience. It was a great experience ... it made me a better man and I am thankful to Mr. Rosenbloom, Don Klosterman and the entire Los Angeles Rams group. I made some friends out there, in fact, I have a home out there now. Had I not been fortunate to play for the Rams at that time, I may never have found my way West or made the friends that I did or learned the things that I learned while I was with the Rams. It was a tough time, but I promise you it was worthwhile. It made me a better man.
Most importantly, I would like to thank God. Now the Good Lord is with us all the time whether you realize it or not and seems that we only find him in times of stress and trouble. I got closer to God when I had some injuries but thank God again, I am close to him now. He was kind enough to old Joe to let me find my wife Deborah. People ask, "Joe why didn't you many earlier?" I never meant Deborah earlier that's why. The first time I met her I fell in love and we got married. I wasn't planning to marry; it just happened that way. Now we are going to have our child and we hope and pray that the child will be healthy and live a happy life. We will do our job to the best of our abilities to raise that child.
Jimmy Walsh I would like to thank you, Buddy, and Mike Bite. A lot of these owners do not like agents, but I tell you what, I have two friends that are lawyers, friends first and they have been with me through the year since Alabama days and are still with me and I am so happy and proud of them and I know they feel the same way about me right now and again are sharing this honor with me.
Alright, I would like to thank the Hall of Fame Committee fir the fine job that they are doing here and having this Hall of Fame kept up in such a nice way that you get goose bumps when you walk through it. I do just as a guy walking through it, forget about being enshrined in it. I see guys in there that I have admired my entire life at least when I was old enough to start understanding football. I look over' here at the gentlemen that are already in the Hall of Fame and I used to watch them on television and cheer for them. There are a few of them, Doug Atkins, Nitschke, can you imagine that.
You know one of the best things that ever happened in pro football for me is not having to play against Ray Nitschke, Doug Atkins, Butkus and guys like that ... I was a very fortunate man. Again, I would like to thank Pete Elliott, Bob McCarthy, thank you for taking me around here. Pete Elliott thank you for your help for' making everyone here feel at home and comfortable. People in Canton, Ohio you do a great job here, you do a wonderful job here. The fellows already in the Hall of Fame they told us new guys, you won't believe the feeling that you are going to have, the way the people open up the town and make you feel at home. And they are right, it is tough to believe, and it is sincere and true, and it is happening, and we love it, so thank you people of Canton, Ohio. I would like to thank the football fans all over the country for being fans. Without the football fans, the players you know we wouldn't have people to play for so it wouldn't be near as much fun so thank you football fans all over the country. Thank you, God, thank you friends that are here today, we will see you again here in Canton, Ohio in another year.