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No average Joes here: Joe Maddon meets Joe Namath

Posted Mar 20, 2012 by Roger Mooney

Updated Mar 20, 2012 at 03:24 PM


JUPITER—Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon met his childhood idol, legendary New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath, this morning before the Rays-Marlins game at Roger Dean Stadium.

Namath lives four miles from the stadium and was Maddon’s guest for the day. He wore a Rays spring training jersey with the name “NAMATH” and the number 12 stitched on the back as he watched batting practice with Maddon. He later delivered the lineup card to the umpire before the start of today’s game.

Maddon said he wore No. 12 and white cleats when be played high school football in Hazleton, Pa. A quarterback, Maddon said he grew his hair long enough to reach his shoulder pads and was known as “Broad Street Joe” by his high school teammates.

The reference to the famous street in Philadelphia was an homage to Namath’s “Broadway Joe” nickname when he starred for the Jets and led them to an upset victory over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III to become the toast of Manhattan.

“I’ve been waiting for this to happen for many, many years,” Maddon said. “As a kid growing up I did, I modeled myself after him as a football player.”

Someone asked Namath if he knew about Maddon’s accomplishments with the Rays.

“I’m a baseball fan, certainly, but I wasn’t aware of Joe’s history to start with,” Namath said with wide smile. “When I became aware of that I got a big kick out of it.”

Maddon sported Namath’s signature white shoes for the occasion today, although Namath kept it more casual with slip-on loafers and no socks.

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