Friday, August 13, 2010

Joe Namath's Alabama Nickname

When Joe Namath played quarterback for the New York Jets, the sports writers nicknamed him Broadway Joe. Unless you’ve read his ghost written autobiography (I Can’t Wait ‘til Tomorrow ‘Cause I Get Better Looking Every Day), you don’t know the nickname he picked up his freshman year at Alabama. Namath had grown up in integrated Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, and had attended desegregated schools. Many of his classmates had been black. I can only imagine that Bear Bryant must have been extremely impressed with Namath’s ability to go so far north to recruit a quarterback prospect. Very soon after his arrival at Alabama, which at that time was still segregated, one of Namath’s classmates pointed to a picture Namath had of his high school home coming queen and her court. Naturally Joe had been dating the home coming queen. The classmate pointed to the picture and asked, “Namath is that your girl?” Apparently Namath wasn’t paying attention because that ill-intentioned young redneck had been pointing not at the homecoming queen (Namath’s girl) but a black girl who was a member of the queen’s court. Showing all of the sensitivity for which 18 year olds are famous, word rapidly spread across campus that the Pennsylvania kid was a N****r lover, or just plain “n****r.” This made Namath’s life quite unpleasant for a while until he demonstrated an amazing throwing arm that could hit receivers on the numbers with a perfectly thrown spiral up to forty yards out. The term of derision rapidly became one of respect and even awe as in “Damn that n****r is something else,’ that n****r can throw like you wouldn’t believe.”

When news of this got around, Namath relates, some natives of Montgomery were astonished when Namath took off his helmet and they saw that he was white. Whenever I hear a “civil rights” activist state that white people do not have any idea what its like to be called n***r, I think of Joe Namath, who I believe is entitled to say, “Not so fast…”

No comments: