Namath & Messier

Since 2009, the seven-years-without-playoffs New York Jets have the 31st best passer rating in the NFL. That leaves an awful lot of room for filling the enormous gap in the Big Apple that hasn’t been occupied for Jets’ fans since 74-yr old Joe Namath, aka Broadway Joe, wore fur coats and could be caught mesmerizing ladies in his bar, Bachelors III.

In case you’re interested, Namath himself sees some actual runway for Darnold before he’s ready to assume the Jet throne, which has regularly been more of a hot seat:

“The players, the coaches have to be convinced he gives them the best chance to win,” said a carefully-measured Namath yesterday at the United Way of New York City’s 25th Gridiron Gala. “Twenty years old and not having seen the animals — the nature of the defenses he’s going to be confronted with — it’s going to take time.”

Jets CEO Christopher Johnson hasn’t been nearly so careful with his words. “I think people are going to look back — I honestly think they’re going to look back 20 years from now and say this is the moment the Jets shifted into a new year, that they became a great team.”

Namath knows something about living up to expectations as well as greatness. As the first overall pick in the 1965 AFL draft, Broadway Joe didn’t crack the starting lineup until the third game of his rookie year. Not much of a runway there back in the ’60s.

All Darnold has to do in 2018 is beat out Josh McCown (23-50 NFL starter record) and Teddy Bridgewater (can he recover from his serious knee injury?). What an opportunity.

Says ESPN senior staff writer Ian O’Connor: “In fact, no high-profile athlete has entered the New York market with a greater opportunity to build a lasting legend since Mark Messier joined the Rangers in 1991, 51 years after that franchise had last won the Stanley Cup. Darnold comes to the Jets 50 years after they upset the Baltimore Colts for their only Super Bowl title. Now all the former USC star has to do is win one championship over the next 15 or so years — just one — and he will be lionized for life in the world’s most significant city.”