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Just like Buccaneers, Joe Namath is happy to see Tom Brady head south

Joe Namath on the sideline at a New York Jets-Houston Texans game in Houston.
(Eric Gay / Associated Press)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ecstatic about landing Tom Brady, but someone else is pretty excited too.

Everyone in the AFC East who doesn’t play for the New England Patriots.

“There’s no doubt that the opponents are happy about seeing Tom go somewhere else,” legendary New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath said Wednesday. “There’s a lot of fans of course wearing green and white who are happy to see him play somewhere else. No doubt about it.”

In a sense, Brady and Namath are kindred spirits. Both built Hall of Fame careers and reached the mountaintop — Brady has won six Super Bowls, Namath won one — and closed out their careers in warm-weather NFC cities. Namath played his final season with the Los Angeles Rams in 1977.

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He said he feels for Brady having to make the difficult decision to leave the Patriots. Namath left the Jets the season after they selected quarterback Richard Todd in the first round of the 1976 draft.

The Chargers addressed the offensive tackle spot, but now the question is whom they might target for quarterback with Tom Brady out of the picture.

“It was an awful time explaining to Mr. and Mrs. Hess over dinner why I was going to go out there [to Los Angeles],” Namath said, referring to Leon and Norma Hess, who owned the team. “ I needed to leave. I didn’t have enough foresight and understanding of what would have been the prudence of staying with Mr. Hess and the Jets. He definitely wanted me to stay there. I was just beside myself explaining that I just felt like I needed to leave after those 12 years with the team.

“It was a struggle for me emotionally.”

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Namath, 76, spoke by phone Wednesday from his home in Florida, where he’s hunkered down to stay safe from the Coronavirus outbreak.

“I’m sitting in the house alone with my three dogs,” he said. “I live on a river, and I’m fortunate to have some open spaces around me. I can walk around outside. I can breathe some clean air. I’m dealing with the situation with a lot of empathy for those who have been stricken with this damn thing. I’m hoping that we can find some relief through the medical people.”

The iconic quarterback is still very involved in his Joe Namath Foundation , which benefits various children’s charities and neurological research.

“The big game of life, man,” he said. “We’ve all got to work together to help each other out.”


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