Joe Namath is not guaranteeing a Jets win. Not this week. But he does see many similarities in attitudes between the team heading to Indianapolis for Sunday's AFC title game against the Colts and his 1968 team that beat the Colts in Super Bowl III.
"I believe the Jets feel the way we felt at the time: 'Don't be telling us we can't do something,' " Namath told Newsday Wednesday. "They're continuing to prove that with the last couple of games on the road and the way they've grown as a team. You've got to believe in their growth and their experience and the efficiency they perform with for the most part.
"I know this team can win," Namath added. "They've proven that."
Namath has been watching the Jets all season and enjoying the ride from the exhilarating introduction of Rex Ryan as coach last January to the agonizing loss against the Falcons that nearly eliminated them. Up and down, up and down.
"It's like riding that roller coaster," he said. "You're kind of scared, but you're so happy. You know that feeling? They've been playing big, man. This has been sensational."
The Jets have been sensational enough to turn around a culture that hasn't been very upbeat since old No. 12 was slinging passes around the Orange Bowl. They have their fans, themselves - and Namath - believing that a Super Bowl is within reach and a Super Bowl championship is a possibility.
Namath said that execution and poise will be the key for the Jets to beat the Colts on Sunday. But he did not discount the idea of belief, even though he thinks both teams share it.
"So many times over the years I've heard teams say, 'Well, we've got to play with confidence, we've got to be confident and go out there,' " Namath said. "Well, you've got to earn the confidence. I believe both of these teams we're seeing Sunday, the Jets and the Colts, are confident because they've earned it. They have to feel it. It's not B.S. confidence that we see throughout the season from guys who are on stage as much as they're on the football field.
"This week both of these teams have sincere confidence in what they've accomplished," he said. "I'm just excited to see these cats going head to head."
Although Namath didn't confirm it, he hinted that he'll be in Indianapolis with the Jets for the game on Sunday. "I'm going to be in the pocket, let me put it that way," he said. "I'm going to be in the pocket with a good view of the game."
Before that, though, the Jets need to beat the Colts on Sunday. Namath knows that's not an easy task. But if anyone knows anything about beating the Colts as a big underdog, it's Namath,
"The Colts have you-know-who at quarterback," Namath said. "It's going to be a mountain to climb. But you can pick at that base, boy, and tear that mountain down. I believe that's what the Jets are going to do."