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Joe Namath reveals the lofty demands he proposed for first NFL contract

Joe Namath, NY Jets, Contract
Joe Namath, New York Jets, Getty Images

Joe Namath shares his first NFL contract demands

Joe Namath is the gift that keeps on giving for happiness-starved New York Jets fans. The legendary quarterback (who still holds most of the franchise’s passing records) always has a new entertaining story to tell.

Appearing on “The Exchange” podcast hosted by former Jets center Nick Mangold and former Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, Namath revealed the demands of his first NFL contract after he was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals with the 12th pick in the NFL draft.

“I want $200,000 … and a new car, too,” Namath told Cardinals management when they approached him in his Alabama dorm room and asked about his contract demands.

Namath recalls the shock that the two members of the Cardinals organization had when they heard his requests.

“They said, ‘Oh my god!’, the two guys fell off the bed, they leaned back, they went into this, you know, this ‘My god!’ motion, and then it made me feel like a, I don’t know, a jerk!”

St. Louis would agree to Namath’s demands, but only if he signed before Alabama played in the Orange Bowl, which would render Namath ineligible to play in the game.

Namath ended up playing in the Orange Bowl and then signed with the Jets the following day, who had selected him first overall in the AFL draft. New York signed him to a three-year deal that would pay him a salary of $427,000, then an NFL record.

Adjusted for inflation, $427,000 in November 1964 is equal in value to approximately $3.8 million in November 2021. It was an enormous sum for a professional football player at the time.

You can listen to Namath’s entire interview with Mangold and Sanchez here.

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