In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
Five months after leading the New York Jets to an upset win over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, Joe Namath decides to retire. Namath’s decision to retire comes after NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle ordered him to divest his interest in Bachelor’s III a Manhattan Night Club. Namath’s retirement would last a month as he returned to the Jets in time for training camp, agreeing to the NFL’s terms.
Joe Namath was the ultimate rebel in a rebellious time. Born May 31, 1943, in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. When it came time to play professionally he chose the New York Jets of the AFL, this move began to signify a new day for the upstart league, as it became a legitimate contender challenge for talent and helped forge a merger. As Namath became a star in the AFL, he helped deliver another salvo in the NFL-AFL wars when he guaranteed victory in Super Bowl III. Joe Namath would make good on the guarantee, winning Super Bowl MVP as the Jets upset the Baltimore Colts 16-7.
After winning the Super Bowl, Joe Namath became the biggest star in professional football and a sports icon. Fitting hand and hand with his image as Broadway Joe, Namath’s personal life became the subject of tabloids as he was seen as New York’s most famous bachelor. Everyone wanted a piece of the Namath brand. Even though he was among the highest paid players in football, he looked for ways to make money off the field and invested in a nightclub.
The nightclub, that Joe Namath brought into a club at 798 Lexington Avenue on New York’s Upper East Side. The club called Bachelor’s III was owned by Namath, along with former Jets teammate Ray Abruzzese and Singer Bobby Van. With Namath’s involvement, the club became a hotspot for the rich and famous among the New York’s singles scene. The club attracted athletes and entertainers, becoming a hotspot for the paparazzi. The club also became popular for the New York’s underworld, raising the concern of the NFL.
With known gamblers regularly attending Bachelor’s III, Commissioner Pete Rozelle summoned Joe Namath for a meeting. At the meeting, he ordered the star quarterback to divest his interest in the bar. Namath refused and instead announced his retirement. Most assumed that he would return as the nightclub business was clearly not a secure future for Joe Namath. On July 15th shortly after the start of training camp, Namath had another meeting with Rozelle and agreed to sell the club.
Joe Namath would lead the Jets to a second straight Division Championship at 10-4 in 1969, as he won his second straight AFL MVP. However, the Jets quest for a second Super Bowl ended with a 13-6 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round. It would be the last playoff game that Namath would play in as injuries took their toll as the full merger took effect in 1970.