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on April 11, 2007
Great book. I feel sad for a man who peaked at 25.

J!E!T!S! Jets Jets Jets
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on September 2, 2004
I don't even like football but a friend gave me this book for my birthday and I GOBBLED IT UP! I had no idea that Joe Namath was so cool. Now, I am on EBay all the time looking for Namath memorabilia. I hope Mark Kriegel writes another book soon.
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on July 3, 2013
Great book, very interesting, I love every book by M.Kriegel. A must read for sports fans and or those curious about the lives and times of athletes.
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on November 23, 2013
Well written, filled with little known facts and insight...interesting, even for an individual who does not follow football. Worth reading.
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VINE VOICEon August 28, 2005
Unlike other great biographies, Mark Kriegel's "Namath" takes a deeply subjective look at its central hero. Joe Willie Namath was one of those larger than life sports stars, whose fame outshone his on-field achievements, whose name lived on in inverse proportion to his off-field accomplishments. Namath came of athletic age in a particular moment in time, in the middle of a generational split where even a mere athlete could become a politically divisive figure.

Namath did not submit to an interview for this book, and that is for the better. Kriegel did a remarkable job on his research, or perhaps his documentation is remarkable; I have not read many recent sports biographies with such extensive source notes. Kriegel even dates his interviews, so you can see how long he spent on the project. He interviews friends and enemies alike. While this book is certainly "warts and all", it is also hero worship. Kriegel watched all the game films and spoke to all the survivors. While Namath's less proud moments are on the page, this is not a sinister tell-all or a cynical debunking.

The reconstruction of Namath's childhood in Beaver Falls, PA, would appear to be definitive. I can't speak to factual errors in the game summaries, but Kriegel has clearly watched the game broadcasts and NFL Films footage, so I would be surprised if there are any of the blatant errors that you would find in other football or baseball books. Namath's rise and his eventual Super Bowl III triumph takes up two-thirds of the text; the positive does outweight the negative.

The sad end to Namath's career, including his one irrelevant season with the Rams, is described game by game. Perhaps this material could have been condensed. But, as the downside of Namath's career was perhaps a year longer than his rise, the book would be a cheat if it only spent a chapter or two on his post-1968 football play.

More depressing, then, is the look at Namath's post-football media presence. The divisive figure with the long hair and the mink coat and the Fu Manchu became a dinner theater actor with a long string of second-tier endorsements for an electronics chain in the New York City suburbs. This is of course a gross oversimplification of things; Namath's investments, as described here, have been shrewd, and I can't think of other unauthorized celebrity bios that spend so much time on how much the hero loves his children. The book's true heartbreak comes when his girls follow their mother across the country in the wake of his divorce.

Today's larger-than-life athletes seem to lack Namath's swagger: witness Barry Bonds' bizarre press conferences in the wake of BALCO, which eclipsed Namath's "I'm not selling, I quit" moment. Even Curt Schilling, whose journey with the 2004 Boston Red Sox echoes what Namath did for the AFL and the Jets, sold short the bloody sock in a mere ten days by doing telephone endorsements for George W. Bush. Namath would never have done that; in fact, to his credit, he made Richard Nixon's enemies list. On the other hand, Namath's retirement was absent the public humiliation that has recently attached to Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, or the belated admiration finally won by Ali. His worst moment came on the sidelines of an ESPN broadcast, embarrassing but hardly ruinous.

Maybe the fact that he wound up with such an "ordinary" life makes "Namath"'s final 150 pages a bit hollow. He paid his bills, he loved his kids, he rejected the chance to host "Family Feud". However, "Namath" is still a well-researched monument to a great man from a pivotal moment in history. Without embarrassment, you could say the "N" in "NFL" now stands for "Namath".
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on September 22, 2014
Joe Willie I love him!!!!!
This is the HBO Special in writing, I love him and loved the book,
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on August 19, 2014
Meant to give it 4 and a half stars but wasn't sure how to do that...enjoyed it, good read!
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on January 14, 2015
Everything you always wanted to know about Joe Willie, but didn't know where to ask.
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on October 18, 2005
I grew up watching football with my brothers in the late 1970's, just as Namath's career was ending, so I never saw him play. Though very much aware of who he was, I did not know much about him beyond the historic Super Bowl victory.

Well, having read this book, I now know more about him than I ever wanted to know, right down to his prolific vices. Though developing a strong distaste for Namath throughout the book, I have to admit that he becomes a sympathetic character in the last third or so, as the story of his divorce is told.

It is certainly ironic that the user of so many women winds up being used himself in tragic circumstances. I believe that this was written about the time of the infamous Monday Night Football interview with Suzie Kolber, and the book leaves little doubt about how something like that could happen to Namath.

I have two complaints with the book. First, it is overly macho. I know that this is the world of sports and testosterone, but the author's habit of using the F-word every couple of pages or so in unnecessary circumstances wears thin. Referring to women as 'broads' is also grating.

Secondly, the author assumes that he is writing to an audience that watched Namath's career over the years and is more interested in who he slept with rather than what he did on the field. I would have preferred more sports action and game statistics. We aren't even told what his career stats are.
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on October 6, 2014
Very good and overall interesting reading. Shows the ups and downs.
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