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Joe Namath Career Stats

By Chase Stuart

A couple of years ago, my colleague Jason Lisk explained why Joe Namath is a legitimate Hall of Famer. With each passing year, it seems as though Namath’s career gets more misunderstood, particularly by those who look at his career stats without context. One of the main pieces of evidence that sounds damning: among Hall of Fame quarterbacks who began their careers after 1950, Namath ranks last in both touchdown/interception differential and passer rating:

But analyzing a player by his career numbers is too broad a brush for advanced analysis. Brandon Jacobs is 107 yards away from matching Gale Sayers’ career rushing total. Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey have caught more passes than Lance Alworth and Kellen Winslow. At quarterback, comparing players across eras by their raw numbers is a pointless exercise. Byron Leftwich, Kyle Orton and Aaron Brooks have higher career passer ratings than Johnny Unitas. As always, we can only compare players by how they compared to their peers.

Namath’s career is misunderstood for several reasons. Younger fans think he’s famous because of The Guarantee, but he would have been an elite quarterback (and was acknowledged as one by his contemporaries) even if he never won a Super Bowl. He was among the best ever at avoiding sacks, an often overlooked but key element of effective quarterback play. He played in one of the worst eras for quarterbacks to compile strong passing stats, which is why his numbers don’t compare to modern quarterbacks. And his career arc was unusual, which further makes the use of career numbers an inappropriate way to understand Namath’s career.

There are 17 Hall of Fame quarterbacks to enter the league since 1950, and we can add Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady to get to an even twenty. Through age 26, Namath was outstanding, and was the second most productive quarterback of the twenty behind Dan Marino during those years. The table below shows how much value was added by each of the twenty quarterbacks through the age of 26:

Namath was the AFL’s rookie of the year in 1965. The next season, he led the league in passing yards but also interceptions. Still, Namath gave the Jets a glimpse of what he was about to become, as his quick release helped the Jets become the first team to throw 500+ pass attempts but take fewer than 10 sacks; to date, only the ’88 and ’89 Dolphins have ever matched that feat. In ’67, Namath led the AFL in yards per attempt and became the first professional quarterback to eclipse the 4, 000 yard mark; he made the Pro Bowl and split the All-Pro selections with Oakland’s Daryle Lamonica. The next year would define Namath’s career, of course, as he led the Jets to a victory in Super Bowl III. But he also was selected first-team All-Pro at quarterback by all six major AFL sources, and even was named Pro Football Weekley’s All-NFL/AFL quarterback. In 1969 he had another strong season and was named the AFL’s Player of the Year by the AP for the second season in a row. That season, Namath also made his fourth Pro Bowl in five years.

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Popular Q&A

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What are Joe Namaths career stats?

In his career, Namath threw for 27,663 yards, 173 touchdowns and 220 interceptions. He completed 50.1% of his passes.

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What are Joe Namath Football stats?

Joe Namath is 6'2, 200lbs, 65yrs old. He went to Alabama, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985.

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