Thursday, April 26, 2007

When Being a QB Was Fun

This year's top QB prospects have a lot in common. Like most elite college football players, they've participated in scientifically designed workout, nutrition and sports psychology programs designed to turn them into football cyborgs, who can run 4.6 in the 40 yard dash and throw a ball 75 yards on their knees into the teeth of a hurricane.

The story of Marv and Todd Marinovich was supposed to be a cautionary tale, but in many respects, it's become a blueprint. For most college players, the end of a season doesn't mean a break from practice, it just means that it's time for the dreaded offseason conditioning program to begin, and pro athletes who don't participate in their team's "voluntary" post-season programs often find themselves in serious career trouble.

This is a far cry from the days when Billy Kilmer and Sonny Jurgenson got kicked out of the Redskins' weight room for getting mustard on the equipment. For a whole generation of guys like Kilmer, Jurgenson and Bobby Layne, the game wasn't so drearily serious. When you hear their stories, you realize that being a pro athlete may not have been as lucrative, but was probably a lot more fun, than it is today.

Speaking of fun, I think that it's hard to imagine anyone who had more fun in his playing days than Joe Namath, as evidenced by this profile of him in the nation's leading resource for unrepentant dipsomaniacs, Modern Drunkard magazine. What's most interesting to me about this profile isn't the amount of partying he did, but how he appears to have treated people while he was doing it. This profile, like every other story about Joe Namath that I've ever read, gives you no reason to doubt that he was a decent human being even when he was the most celebrated athlete in the country.


Vinny said...

Being Joe Willie Namath had to be one of the coolest things going at the time. If you ever saw the movie CC and Company, he basically played himself.

Hardaway Hates Pittsburgh said...

Didn't he have some pretty unimpressive career stats?