The New York Jets finished the 1967 season against the Chargers at San Diego Stadium on December 24, winning 42-31. Joe Namath completed 18 of 26 passes for 343 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. With his second consecutive 300-yard passing game (he threw for 370 yards in a loss at Oakland the previous week), he finished the year with 4007 yards.
While his career statistics are not exceptional (e.g.: Career passing percentage 50.1, QB rating 65.5, 50 more interceptions than TD’s), Namath was the game’s first true media superstar, and also the first quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards during the 14-game 1967 season. Nobody achieved this feat again until Dan Fouts in 1979, a year after the NFL adopted a 16-game season format and enacted new rules that gave more protection to quarterbacks and wide receivers. Namath’s style of play in the years before his knees limited his mobility helped evolve the quarterback position in the NFL, and also initiated a gradual change in the typical style of an NFL offense from a run-oriented ball control game to a more open passing style. Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh stated that Namath was “the most beautiful, accurate, stylish passer with the quickest release [he’d] ever seen.” Hall of Fame coach Don Shula stated that Namath was “one of the three smartest quarterbacks of all time.”