Vintage Namath surfaces in talk show rebroadcast
August 28, 1997
Web posted at: 3:48 p.m. EDT (1948 GMT)
From Correspondent Paul Vercammen
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- In his heydey, they called him Broadway
Joe -- or, as Howard Cosell would say, "Willie Namath." Joe
Namath is, of course, best known as the quarterback of the
New York Jets.
But it turns out that Namath also hosted a rather intriguing
talk show that is opening eyes these days. In 1969, when
Namath was winning football games and popularity contests
alike, he hosted a live, local talk show with sportscaster
Dick Schaap called "The Joe Namath Show."
These days, Schaap is one of the best-known sports
commentators in the United States. He makes regular
appearances on ABC and ESPN, and is the sports editor for
His reputation as a sportscaster, he implies, could not
possibly have benefited from his early performance on
"Neither Joe or I had the slightest idea of what we were
doing," Schapp says. "We were both total amateurs."
Now, with the rebroadcast of 15 vintage Namath shows on the
Classic Sports Network, memories of a learning experience are
Namath easily makes fun of his lackluster delivery while
watching old tapes of his show -- "What? Speak up, be
prepared, ask proper questions," he says to his taped image.
"I'm not prepared there, what am I doing?"
"There are some things," he admits, "you only learn through
Even in 1969, they knew the show was far from a polished
production, and admitted as much on the air. "What are we
going to do today, Dick?" Namath asked his counterpart in one
episode. "You know the critics have been saying the appeal
of this show has been its amateurism."
"We had this woman on the show who was called our mail girl,"
Schapp recalls. "She would read the mail each week ... and
she was supposed to be the prototypical dumb blonde, and she
played the role to perfection.
"Now either she's a great, great actress, or somebody great
went out and found her," he said.
You never knew who might pop up on the set of the Joe Namath
show -- Ann Margret appeared once in the audience, and Woody
Allen was interviewed once -- Namath asking the director
whether rumors that he was an outstanding stickball player
"That's true. I was a phenomenal athlete, I was a great
stickball player. I could do it all," Allen answered.
Another show paired up boxer Rocky Graziano and Truman
Namath says that even now, he likes the show's format as much
as he did then. "We had an athlete from some part of the
world of sports, and someone that was not necessarily a
sportsman," he said.
So watch for the Joe Namath show, amateur headaches and all.