Geno Smith vs. Michael Vick?
It's no contest, said Joe Namath.
Asked to predict which quarterback will emerge as the Jets' Week 1 starter, Namath wasted no time picking Vick.
"Of course, the coaches are going to decide who's out there, but boy, I don't know any football fan that's been around the last nine or 10 years that doesn't think Michael can be outstanding," Namath said Tuesday night at the 21st annual United Way of New York City's Gridiron Gala in Manhattan.
"And he's probably the best player at this time," the outspoken Jets great said of Vick, who signed a free-agent deal in March.
If there's anyone who knows quarterbacks it's Namath, the only Jets signal-caller to lead the franchise to a Super Bowl win. Though he was a staunch supporter of Mark Sanchez, who was released the same day the organization signed Vick, Namath sees potential in Smith. A rookie last season, Smith led the Jets to an 8-8 record, including wins in three of the final four games.
But Vick, Namath said, has the upper hand right now.
"If Mike's healthy, I think he's the better player at this point," Namath said of Vick. "Now, Geno's got some talent. No doubt. But we've already seen Michael and what he can do. And having some knowledge of Marty [Mornhinweg's] offense, I think that's an advantage, too for Michael to make the transition. It's a matter of how sound he is."
But while the Jets signed Vick, 33, in the name of competition, the former Eagle is here to "push" Smith, Mornhinweg said. And Vick often has referred to the Jets as Geno's team.
The Jets quarterback room will be crowded this offseason. During the weekend, they drafted former Clemson star Tajh Boyd in the seventh round. Boyd, a former college teammate of Rex Ryan's son, will join Smith, Vick and third-stringer Matt Simms.
At the event, Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson and Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz were honored as a "Hometown Hero." The event raised more than $1.75 million and marked 21 years of partnership between New York’s football teams and UWNYC (http://unitedwaynyc.org), which has raised more than $24 million to support education programs for New York City students.
Sheldon supports Sam
Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson's advice to Michael Sam on draft day was short and sweet. "[I told him] 'Congratulations, man. Put this stuff behind you and go to work," said Richardson, the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Richardson said he was glad Sam got his name called. "Now he's gotta go and prove himself," Richardson added with a smile. "He's a rookie now."
Colon: Vick fits in
Michael Vick is no diva, said Willie Colon. "He's been awesome," the right guard said. "He came in extremely humble, willing to work. I haven't sensed no Hollywood out of him. He's going to fit in really great with us."
Colon, who tore his bicep in the final regular-season game of 2013, said he'll be out "for a little bit" to start OTAs, but it's only precautionary. "Right now," he said, " it's baby steps to get me back into it."