Constructing the New York Jets all-time Mount Rushmore is an impossible chore for those who want to torture themselves.
You have undoubtedly heard the saying before today: “I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy.”
Those who are stuck or who have been stuck in an unenviable situation describe it in a way so horrible they wouldn’t want the worst individual to suffer the same fate. The very same who happen to be New York Jets fans can point to one exercise as easily falling under the painful category.
Mount Rushmore, the chore in which there can only be four.
Why four? Why Mount Rushmore? No particular reason, exactly. At this point, it’s simply fashionable when thinking back at all-time greats. For some franchises, four comes easy. For example, the New York Jets four are undoubted. As great as Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford were, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle cannot be touched as the faces on the mountain.
The Jets, on the other hand, have a problem. There is no clearcut group of four. In fact, an argument can be made the big dip comes after the fifth, sixth, seventh or eighth player with very little separation in between.
Who are the four that provide the answer to this impossible question?
1. Joe Namath
The greatest player in New York Jets history is Joe Namath. It cannot be argued.
When looking back at the numbers, the injuries and the entire production piece of the pie, yeah, of course the man’s overrated. Throwing 47 more interceptions than touchdowns over the course of a 13-year career is all the evidence needed to support our revisionist history.
But what’s important is we must accept that history. Namath isn’t just the most important figure in Jets history, but he’s probably the single-most-important figure in American Football history (although throwing more picks in those days wasn’t uncommon).
His guarantee and Super Bowl 3 victory provided the AFC with its first shot in the arm, eventually paving the way for a Kansas City Chiefs championship and the most impactful sports merger of all-time—one that gave the world the powerhouse NFL we know today.
He was also (along with Muhammad Ali) the first athlete to take his act off the field in the world of entertainment. The man who was “just trying to get by” stood up as the first real celebrity athlete. Before Namath, very few athletes could pull it off. Since him, nearly all-star professional athletes enjoy that entertainment lifestyle that meshes so brilliantly with the profession of sport.