From the S&S archives:At Munich, Namath talks about 'football, football and football'

Joe Namath talks to and signs autographs for fans at Munich American High School in May, 1978. Namath was accompanied on the visit by his co-star in "Avalanche Express," Linda Evans (bottom photo)


By JOHN SAVARD | S&S NüRNBERG BUREAU CHIEF Published: May 17, 1978

MUNICH (S&S) — When Joe Namath came to talk with kids of the American military community here, he was prepared for any subject.

"I'll talk about anything you want," Namath said, "about football, about football, about football."

So the first question was about his plans for the forthcoming 1978 NFL football season.

"I'm not in football any more," said Namath. "I retired in February."

So what is Joe Namath doing in Munich? the kids asked next.

Namath is working on his new career as a movie actor. He is working in Munich on a motion picture called "Avalanche Express." The movie is a spy-adventure about the defection of the head of Russia's KGB to the West, and features a cast of international stars. They include Robert Shaw, Lee Marvin, Linda Evans, Maximilian Schell, Horst Buchholz, Mike Connors and Namath.

In the movie, Namath plays an American military agent referred to in press releases as "physical, attractive, with the appearance of an athlete."

"Avalanche Express" is the first of three projects Namath is working on for Lorimar Productions. The second will be a television series called "Waverly Wonders" and the third will be a made-for-television movie.

"In the television series," said Namath, "I am a high school history teacher and a basketball coach and I can't do either one very well. So it's going to be interesting."

Other than the movie and Joe's future as an actor, the kids played it safe with their interview and asked lots of questions about football, football and football.

"The toughest team I ever played against," said Namath, "was the Pittsburgh Steelers. That's when they were at their best. And I'm speaking strictly from a defensive standpoint. They weren't necessarily the best offensive team I ever played, but they were the best on defense."

The kids then asked who he thought was the best offensive football team in professional football.

"I feel that the best offensive football team I've ever known was the 1968 New York Jets," said' Namath, referring to the team he quarterbacked to a Super Bowl championship.

"But after that, the two teams I appreciated most for their offensive philosophy were the Dallas Cowboys and the Kansas City Chiefs."

Asked if he thought the Dallas Cowboys would repeat as the next Super Bowl champs, Namath said he hoped not.

"I hope first of all that the New York Jets or the Los Angeles Rams will win. And after that, I am a Miami Dolphins fan. That's because they have a Hungarian coach."

When asked who the toughest defensive NFL player was, Namath named Jack Reynolds of the Los Angeles Rams.

"They nicknamed him `Hacksaw'," said Namath. "That's because, you see, he gets frustrated if he doesn't play football at times.

"So he took a hacksaw and sawed his jeep in half one day. He does things like this," said Namath. "Then the trainer needed some cleats pulled one day. This job is usually done with pliers. Hacksaw went over, and pulled them out with his hands. He does things like this and he has to rank as one of the meanest."

The meanest NFL team, according to Namath, is the Oakland Raiders.

"I have some very good friends on the Oakland Raiders," he said. "I consider them one of the toughest football teams I've ever worked against, but also one of the dirtiest football teams I've ever played against.""

The youngsters also questioned Namath about his shaky knees which plagued him during the last few years of his football career.

"The only time I get weak knees right now is when I do a scene with Linda Evans," he said. "She makes me nervous.

"But I did miss a couple of games during the last part of the season because of injuries. That's what's bad about football, the injuries. One of the good things about being able to play in football or work for professional teams is that you always have professional help around and doctors to take care of you. So they keep you pretty healthy.

"When I got to Los Angeles," Namath continued, "the doctor decided that since I couldn't run a lot for exercise, I should start swimming. So what we would do there would be to report (to the pool) before practice in the morning and in the afternoon after practice. Once we got into the regular season, it was once an afternoon after practice."

At the end of their interview, the Munich kids got a chance to do what they most wanted. That was to collect Joe Namath's autograph. For those who happened to have footballs with them (many youngsters just happened to have footballs handy), Joe obliged. Those who wanted autographs had to wait until Joe got back to his office where he could personally autograph photographs, which he promised to mail.

Until Joe Namath's new image as a motion picture star overtakes the old, questions put to him by his fans will be about football, football and football.

from around the web