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Joe Namath Refused to Play Football at Notre Dame

Joe Namath Refuses to Play at Notre Dame

When most NFL fans hear the name “Joe Namath,” they immediately think of his spectacular guarantee and subsequent triumph in Super Bowl III.

In 1969, the former New York Jets quarterback stunned the world by leading his AFL champion club to a victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

While Namath had a Hall of Fame career as a pro quarterback, he was also a successful college quarterback.

Namath was a sought-after high school recruit.

He was even recruited by Notre Dame, one of the finest programs in the country at the time.

He didn’t end up playing there, however, for an unexpected reason.

Joe Namath made an impression at every level of football

New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath eats bubble gum during passing practice at Hofstra University during the Jets’ training camp.

Namath’s biggest success as a football player is remembered as Super Bowl III, but he was also praised in high school and college.

According to Deadspin, which quotes Namath’s 1969 Playboy interview, Namath was a top high school prospect.

He excelled at football, baseball, and basketball while playing under the direction of his older brother.

The Pennsylvania native earned multiple scholarships offers to play quarterback for various universities.

Joe Namath
Joe Namathplaying football Source: CBS Sports

According to Namath, he visited several schools, including Miami, Maryland, Indiana, Iowa, and Notre Dame.

Why Joe Namath turned down Notre Dame

Notre Dame is still an excellent choice for college football players.

Their broadcasting agreement grants them sole ownership of their own national network coverage (NBC).

If they play well enough, the Fighting Irish will be the only independent team with a chance to play in the College Football Playoff.

The school, as large as it is now, was significantly larger in the 1960s.

Joe Namath Refused to Play Football at Notre Dame
Joe Namath Refused to Play Football at Notre Dame Source:

Notre Dame was simply one of the top destinations for the country’s greatest football players.

Namath was unconcerned about this. Despite being recruited by the Fighting Irish, he chose not to play for them.

His argument was straightforward: there were no women at the school. Here’s what Namath had to say:

“Two reasons: I spoke with their coach at the time, Joe Kuharich, and I wasn’t impressed with him.”

More importantly, there were no females at Notre Dame.

They said there was a women’s college immediately over the lake.”

Namath had a good reputation as a suitable bachelor.

This is consistent with his motivation for not playing at Notre Dame.

He was nothing if not dependable.

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Namath ended up playing college football somewhere

While he did not play for the Fighting Irish, he did play for another prestigious college football program, the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Namath’s top choice was Maryland, but he lacked the required grades.

Namath’s brother Frank had previously played for two of Alabama’s coaches while they were at Kentucky.

Life in the South was something that Namath had to get used to.

Coming from tiny Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, to play in the midst of Alabama was quite a culture shock for him.

However, Namath blossomed under the watchful supervision of famous coach Bear Bryant.

Bryant didn’t always agree with Namath’s lifestyle and habits, but he admired Namath’s talent. Namath was an All-American for Alabama his senior year.