Now that Super Bowl LIII has gone into the history books, lots of folks have been sharing personal memories of the biggest annual event in football.
For those of us who didn’t pay attention when our classmates studied Roman numerals in grade school, LIII stands for the number 53. The “L” is for 50 and the I’s are for three, of course.
That means last Sunday’s tussle between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams was the 53rd time we Americans have hosted a world championship in professional football.
Long ago, the game was moved to Sunday and that day became Super Sunday, especially for the TV networks, because the game usually attracts the largest U. S. television audience of the year, estimated at more than 110 million.
Any mention of the Super Bowl must include legendary quarterback Joe Namath of the New York Jets who predicted and then delivered a victory over the Baltimore Colts, 16-7, in Super Bowl III in 1969 at the Orange Bowl in Miami. The Colts were favored by 18 points.
Flamboyant and fun loving, Namath was a favorite of fans and the media. His given name was Joseph William but Howard Cosell of ABC nicknamed him “Joe Willie” because of his blue-collar background in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.
But the best nickname came later when Namath appeared on the sidelines of a Jets game wearing a full-length mink coat instead of a team windbreaker. One of his teammates called him “Broadway Joe” and the name stuck.
Namath turned his celebrity status into economic success with endorsement deals and as a nightclub owner, a TV talk show host, advertising spokesperson, sports broadcaster and as an actor in theater, motion pictures, and television. Try as I might, I cannot clear my mind of the image of Broadway Joe wearing pantyhose in a TV commercial. He also let movie star Farrah Fawcett shave his face in a shaving cream commercial.
A series of injuries ended his career after 13 seasons but pro football has not had another personality like him in the 50 years since Super Bowl III.
Without a doubt, Broadway Joe was one of a kind.
Keith Kappes can be reached at keithkappes@ gmail.com or by telephone at 356-0912.