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Namath Sounds Off On Jets QB Situation

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Namath: Jets must find a quarterback

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Star-Ledger Staff

Joe Namath knows how difficult it is to return from a major injury.

During his 13-year Hall of Fame career, the former Jets quarterback suffered multiple knee injuries, a fractured right wrist and torn ligaments in his right shoulder, among other battle scars.

With that in mind, Namath doesn't believe it's a sure thing Chad Pennington will be a top-flight quarterback again in the NFL after having his right shoulder surgically repaired twice in the past nine months. Always a big Pennington supporter, even Namath believes it's time for the Jets to look for an alternative.

"It's tough emotionally, and in Chad's case, you don't know if your career is over or if you'll ever be back," Namath said yesterday. "You go through a period of rehab and (it's) a lot of work. You don't want doubt and you want to believe you'll be all right but don't really know how many times you can come back. ... It doesn't always work out."

While Pennington tried to paint an optimistic picture about the shoulder injury he suffered Sept. 25 in a 26-20 loss to the Jaguars, team officials have told The Star-Ledger the surgery he had this month to repair a small tear in the rotator cuff and a tear of the anterior capsule is a "major" surgery, just as serious as the surgery he had last February to repair a torn rotator cuff, labrum and remove bone chips.

Namath, like any Jets fan, knows the team is in a bind over Pennington's future. In addition, his backup, Jay Fiedler, suffered a shoulder injury in the same game. Brooks Bollinger got his first career start in a 13-3 loss to the Ravens before 41-year-old Vinny Testaverde was signed as a free agent and named the starter.

"When you lose a guy who's a leader and a hell of a player, especially a quarterback with a questionable arm with the rotator cuff, it's scary," said Namath, who would have liked to have seen Bollinger get more of a chance. "I was disappointed. I believe Bollinger was tied up a little bit and they played very conservatively against Baltimore."

Namath, who suffers from osteoarthritis, was in Teaneck yesterday promoting the Arthritis Huddle, and educational program.

He believes the Jets must have a strong backup plan in case Pennington can't return. Having to address the quarterback position again after signing Pennington to a seven-year, $67.6 million extension that included an $18-million signing bonus at the start of the 2004 season is a devastating blow to the franchise. Pennington, due a $3 million roster bonus in March, will count $12 million on the salary cap in 2006.

"They have to aggressively look for someone," said Namath, the most famous Jet after delivering the team's only championship in Super Bowl III. "How do you wait? You don't wait. You furnish the best possible players you can."

While there may be talk that QB Philip Rivers could be had from the Chargers or Patrick Ramsey from the Redskins, Namath likes a blond-haired kid on Tampa Bay whose father, Phil, won a couple of Super Bowls for the Giants and lives in Franklin Lakes.

"I like Chris Simms. I think he's going to be something special," Namath said. "I like him as a player and how he developed through his college career (at Texas). I see a great deal of composure and athleticism in him. I think he could be one of the top quarterbacks."

Simms, a restricted free agent after the season, will be difficult to acquire if he performs well as Tampa Bay's starter in place of Brian Griese, who tore knee ligaments last Sunday and is expected to be out for the season. Tampa Bay will almost certainly sign Simms to a long-term deal if he takes advantage of the opportunity and plays well.

Namath doesn't feel the Jets are out of it this season, not even after six-time Pro Bowl center Kevin Mawae suffered a season-ending injury when he tore the triceps tendon leading to his left elbow last Sunday against the Bills. But he says the rest of the season will depend on the mettle of the players.

"If anyone on that team thinks that (it's over) then it's going to be a long season," Namath said. "No one will be feeling sorry when they come into Atlanta (Monday)."

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the Jets have to go on the assumption of counting on nothing from pennington and plan accordingly. Whether by trade, free agent or draft there has to be some else in here next year that can be the starter or groomed as the starter

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Namath, who would have liked to have seen Bollinger get more of a chance. "I was disappointed. I believe Bollinger was tied up a little bit and they played very conservatively against Baltimore."


Joe, somebody who knows what he's talking about. Hire Joe Namath as coach. At least if we don't win, I'm sure Joe would have cheerleaders around to kiss!!

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I say can the whole current staff and replace them with Joes....Namath, Klecko, and Fields.

Take it from a guy who just watched his Detroit Tigers ran into the ground by his favorite Tigers of all time from the 84 World Champs. You don't want it. No matter the love for Trammel, Gibby and Parrish, their reps in Motown aren't so hot right now.

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