The term "overrated" gets used a lot these days.
People usually use the term to describe athletes they don't like. This however is not the case with me and my opinion of Joe Namath. I personally like Joe Namath. I read all about him as a kid and thought of him as one of the all-time greats, up there with Unitas, Montana, Marino, and Elway.
Then...I saw the statistics.
One look at the stat book will show that no player had ever personified the word "overrated" quite like Broadway Joe. True the sport is not just about numbers. So to be fair, I'll put his career in perspective and give a fair analysis to explain why I see Joe Namath as the most overrated player in NFL history.
The first logical step is to look at those numbers. So lets do so.
He threw for 27,663 yards in 12 seasons. This statistic is moderately impressive due to the era he was playing in. However, when you factor in the fact that he spent the first half of his career throwing the ball around in the AFL, it puts things into better perspective. No disrespect to the AFL, it was a fun league, but no one can ignore the fact that it was much easier to pass and put up big numbers in the AFL of the 1960's then it was in the NFL of that same era.
The passing yards, however, are not the main focus of this discussion. It is the touchdown vs. interception ratio that caught my eye. Namath threw a pedestrian 173 touchdown passes in the years he played. More alarmingly, he threw 220 interceptions.
His career Quarterback rating amounts to a pathetic 65.5. True it was a different era, but other famous Quarterbacks who played during the same period did far better. Just look at Roger Staubach (83.4), Len Dawson (82.6) and Sonny Jurgensen (82.6). Namath is nowhere close to any of the above mentioned in that department.
Even if we look past the numbers, what are his achievements?
He won Super Bowl III and guaranteed victory in doing so. Many NFL historians would tell you that was a very suspicious game. Would the AFL have merged with the NFL had the Jets got squashed?
Did both leagues stand to make a lot of money from a merger?
All that, however, is speculation. Even if the Super Bowl victory was clean, Namath was awarded the MVP by throwing zero touchdown passes? That was supposed to be his greatest moment was it not?
So to summarize, a quarterback who has a disgusting quarterback rating more then five points lower then the infamous Rex Grossman was put in the Hall of Fame. He threw far more interceptions then touchdowns; players like that get benched today much less put in the Hall of Fame.
It is for these reasons that I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Joe Namath is the most overrated player in the history of the NFL.