CORTLAND, N.Y. – Joe Namath caught a glimpse of Bart Scott's T-shirt and stopped to take a few pictures with the New York Jets linebacker.
The line from a popular rap song — "Known To Do The Impossible Like Broadway Joe" — was emblazoned across Scott's broad chest. It was fitting, Namath thought, especially with how excited he is about this year's Jets team.
"To me, we have the most legitimate contender we've had," said Namath, his gray hair still wet after watching a rain-soaked practice Thursday. "That's as simple as I can put it."
With all the talk about a run for the Super Bowl by coach Rex Ryan and his players, Namath believes it's legitimate. Since leading the Jets to their only championship in 1969, Namath has seen plenty of teams with high hopes come and go. This year, the hype is different.
"It's justified," he said in that familiar, syrupy drawl. "This is what I'm saying: This team that I'm looking at today is more suited to be able to follow through with a championship, or to get a championship, than what we've had out there."
Now 67 with a mind he acknowledges is sometimes sketchy — "I think my memory's all right, but I question it myself now since I've been monitoring it" — Namath has no trouble remembering details about his playing career. Or, about delivering on possibly the greatest guarantee in sports history.
"Well," he said, pausing for a split-second, "It was a dream come true."
Namath was decked out in a Jets jacket and T-shirt and wearing a credential around his neck with his name "Joe Namath" printed in black ink, as if he was just any other visitor. No doubt, though, he's still the closest the Jets have to royalty because of that Super Bowl ring.
"I never dreamt that it would be a longtime coming to get another championship with the New York Jets, or the New York Jets getting another one," he said. "Of course, I didn't dream of living until this age, even though I changed my plans. I'm going a lot longer."
Speaking of waits, he doesn't think star cornerback Darrelle Revis' holdout will go much longer.
"After talking to some important people," he said, not quite guaranteeing it, "in my opinion, I have confidence Revis will be here."
Namath's optimism for the team largely lies in the continued development of quarterback Mark Sanchez, who has thoroughly impressed Broadway Joe.
"As a player, knowing what it was like for me as a rookie and then the second year, it's a big difference because you really don't know the offense as a rookie," Namath said. "You're learning it. Mark is like, 'This year, let's go play.' He's not impeded by the learning process so much, even though there is continuing education there when you're out there. He's ready to go."
His biggest concern is actually the left guard position that was vacated when the Jets cut perennial Pro Bowler Alan Faneca in April.
"When I first saw that we lost Faneca, I was a bit confused, upset," he said. "The man was a Pro Bowler for a number of years and did well last year, and I still don't know exactly why he's departed. But whoever steps into that slot's going to have a load to carry."
That will be either rookie Vladimir Ducasse or second-year player Matt Slauson.
"If our horses up front can do a job similar to what they did last year, we've got a good shot, offensively," he said.
"'It's good to see you in green. The kind we wear, you know, and not that funky green they wear down there in South Florida,'" Namath said he told Taylor, laughing. "I feel like I've been watching Jason Taylor play most of my life, you know? And, what a player. I just hope he stays healthy because he brings a lot to the team, if he's healthy."
Namath enjoys talking football — "I'm a football-aholic" — and has started his own site, www.broadwayjoe.tv, to communicate with fans on a regular basis to discuss sports and life issues.
"There are some things after living a number of years, I mentioned being a football-aholic, I was another kind of an 'aholic' for a while, too," said Namath, a recovering alcoholic. "Learned some lessons with that."
With that, Namath shook some hands, smiled and posed for a few more pictures.
"We have a team," he said, smiling again, "we're expecting a lot out of this year."
(This version CORRECTS Corrects to 'development' instead of 'developed' in 12th paragraph.)