White shoes. Fur coat. Pantyhose. Fu Manchu mustache.

And an arm that would make Superman proud.

Yep, Joe Namath is the NFL's greatest character. Guaranteed.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback who guaranteed his three-touchdown underdog New York Jets would beat the mighty Baltimore Colts in the third Super Bowl was a solid choice in balloting conducted by The Associated Press in conjunction with the league's celebration of its 100th season. Namath earned 2,577 points in voting by a nationwide panel of 60 football historians and media who regularly cover the NFL.

"Sonny (Werblin, the Jets owner) came from the entertainment business and he believed in the star system. He knew fans wanted to see stars," Namath said. "We thought of ourselves as just football players that nobody got to know except the guys we played with.

"I'll never forget this. I had dinner with the Werblins one night -- this was late in the 1960s -- and Sonny was telling me, 'You're a confident guy. Be more open, it will be better for everybody.' And I kept saying, 'It's just football. How much is there to talk about?'

"So finally, his wife leans over and says, 'Joe, don't worry, honey. It's all just show business,' and she turned out to be right. Sport was changing. Things were changing in society, too. ...

"All that action off the field? Some of it was good and some not so good. But thank God, we're still here."

And on top.

Namath easily outdistanced the late Al Davis, owner of the Raiders and a former coach and AFL commissioner. Each had 12 first-place votes, but Davis wound up 162 points behind Namath.

Only Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre was on all 60 ballots. Favre finished fourth overall.

Other characters in the top 30, which was revealed on NFL Network on Friday night, were colorful coaches Bum Phillips (No. 6), Mike Ditka (No. 10), Buddy Ryan (11th), Bill Parcells (12th) and Vince Lombardi (22nd); quarterback-turned broadcaster Don Meredith (17th); and such great-nicknamed characters as Chad (Ochocinco) Johnson at No. 14, Rob (Gronk) Gronkowski at No. 15, William (Refrigerator) Perry at No. 23; and Marshawn (Beast Mode) Lynch at No. 24.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.