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No Debate: Leading the Pack

Craig Barritt

I'm sure you all have your house full of Gillette products now that you know GGN is running a series of posts sponsored by that company. This week's Gillette debate on its Facebook page is about which quarterback is leading the pack this year.

I think the less said about the Jets' current quarterback situation, the better. Let's go with more of a historical perspective. On a Jets blog, how could we write a quarterback post on 12/12/12 without talking about the greatest Jets quarterback of all time, Joe Namath?

It's become a cool thing to do in NFL fan circles to look at Namath's career numbers with no sense of context and declare he isn't a worthy Hall of Famer or even a good quarterback. When you actually look at what he did in his career, though, it's impressive.

Namath's numbers look terrible if you compare them to the numbers the quarterbacks put up today, but there are reasons for that. The rules were extremely different back in Namath's day. What cornerbacks were allowed to do to receivers then would be an obvious pass interference call on every play in today's game. It was tougher to play quarterback then, and the offensive coaching and scouting that give today's quarterbacks an edge were vastly less sophisticated.

The best way to judge Namath is against his contemporaries. Before his knees went, he was a top tier quarterback. He won a pair of MVP awards and made the Pro Bowl five times. He led his league in passing yards three times and was in the top three on three other occasions. He led his league in passing touchdowns once and finished second in three other seasons. He led his league twice in yards per attempt and three other times finished in the top three.

Namath was a great quarterback, one of the best of his era. The myth that he was mediocre and only remembered because he played in New York and guaranteed a Super Bowl is just that, a myth. He would have been even better had he stayed healthy.

Joe Namath still leads the pack for the Jets.