With loads of charm and tabloid-friendly sideline antics (namely, sporting pantyhose under his uniform and a fur coat over it), Joe Namath won over frosty Jets fans in the late ’60s, and brought the team their first and only Super Bowl win. On Oct. 19, Namath—who recently launched a line of high-end steaks and the Namath Rapid Cooker (available at namathproducts.com)—returns to host the Wine & Food Festival’s Jets and Chefs tailgate with Mario Batali. Here, he answers our burning questions.
Which five iconic figures would be at your dream dinner party?
I’d choose my mother and my father and my brother John and my uncle Joe. Now, are they iconic? They might not fit that word.
What do a football player and a chef have in common?
Both have to have a plan. The execution is one thing, but getting together the basics so you can execute it is another.
What’s in your refrigerator right now?
Vegetables and fish—I’m a fish man, living down in Florida—and occasionally a piece of meat.
Describe your typical breakfast.
Greek yogurt with whey protein and watermelon, blueberries, walnuts, almonds and cinnamon.
Favorite music to dine by?
Jazz, country. And I appreciate Broadway tunes. I’m a Gemini, so my likes and dislikes really depend on my mood.
What’s your favorite NYC dish?
There’s no pizza better than New York’s—I promise you, I have never had pizza like it anywhere else in the country.
What are you really good at?
I try to be really good at my relationships—especially with my family—and good with my feelings, sensitivity and thoughts. I’m not really good at it, but I do try.
Best advice you’ve ever received?
When I was a youngster in school, I was caught daydreaming by the nuns and I’d get a smack. But then, in high school, I had a coach who always told us, ‘If you don’t dream about it, it’ll never happen.’ So there was some conflict in my brain, you see. But I took his advice, and to this day, almost everything I dreamed of actually came true.
What are you most proud of?
Understanding that relationships are a two-way street. Even being in the Hall of Fame and winning a championship—I was a part of a team! If it weren’t for those people, we would never have accomplished those things.
What do you remember most about New York fans?
They want to be happy. They want their teams to win, and they let you know how they feel—and they’re entitled to it! I was shocked the first time I heard 64,000 people booing me. That’s a heck of a feeling.
Do you have a TV guilty pleasure?
I’m more of a reader. I do watch sporting events, and while preparing dinner, I watch the news. If I don’t like what the news is talking about, I’ll watch the Discovery Channel.
What’s the last thing you read?
The first part of Clyde Kessler’s most recent book. I also read three or four chapters of 50 Shades of Grey, and my daughter said, ‘You’re reading what?!’ So I stopped. I felt like I knew where it was going and I was interested, but my daughter helped kill it for me.
What does no one know about Joe Namath?
I wouldn't tell you. Ha! I know... but I'm not sharing that.
If you could change one thing about America, what would it be?
All the deception and dishonesty and greed, and the struggle for power.
Do you have a favorite president?
Franklin D. Roosevelt has a favorite spot in my heart, and John F. Kennedy. I’ve met President Reagan, both President Bushes, President Carter, President Ford and President Nixon. But politically, I couldn’t say who the best was at the job.
Do you prefer phone calls or texts?
I like texting when I’m sending pictures to friends and family, and sometimes it’s efficient and necessary. But otherwise, I’d rather be talking to someone.
Which quarterback would lead your Fantasy Football team?
I had so much respect for Archie Manning, who played with the New Orleans Saints. But a quarterback needs a team before he can do something; they didn’t have one, and he was running for his life for 10 to 11 years.
Which current NFL team would you want to play with?
The Baltimore Ravens, because they won the Super Bowl last season. You always want to play for the good team!
What do the Jets need to do to win another Super Bowl?
Different personnel in a lot of places. Are they trying to put their best player on the field to win a championship, or just trying to be the top media headline in town?
Any advice for Mark Sanchez?
Stay strong, stay focused and believe in what you’re doing. I had to stop reading about myself in my second and third year of pro ball because I realized how it was making me feel when it was negative. Then it dawned on me, ‘Wait a minute—I know more about my team and what we’re doing than these guys do! Why the hell am I reading papers?’