Alabama quarterback Joe Namath poses with an Orange Bowl football during a practice in Miami on December 27, 1964. Five days later, Alabama was slated to meet Texas in the Orange Bowl. Namath led the Crimson Tide to a 9-0-1 record and their first undefeated regular season since 1958. The rookie quarterback went on to become the most popular player in Alabama history and one of the best ever to play the game.
Namath was drafted first overall by the New York Jets but instead signed with the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Colts. He helped lead the team to its first American Football League title game before falling to the Patriots 41-27. Namath then took over at quarterback for the Jets, leading them to the AFL championship game where they defeated the Houston Oilers 16-7 with help from two late interceptions by John Smith. However, due to a league rule that prevented players from playing in more than one franchise per year, Namath was unable to take part in the Jets' playoff game against the Steelers.
In February 1965, Namath was traded to the Los Angeles Rams where he played three seasons before being released by the club.
After the first quarter of the 1984 Orange Bowl, Nebraska trailed Miami 17-0. Nebraska coach Tom Osborne ordered the play early in the second quarter, and Nebraska quarterback Turner Gill effectively "fumbled" the snap from center Mark Traynowicz by placing it on the turf. However, the ball was recovered by Traynwozi at the Miami 15-yard line.
Gill then led Nebraska to a touchdown on its next possession. The score was made possible when Bill Kircher hit Gill in the back field after he threw an interception. The play was originally called for no gain, but after a review, it was determined that Kircher had stepped out of bounds before he caught the ball. This gave Nebraska a new set of downs at the Miami 30-yard line. From there, Osborne called another play for Gill, this time a screen pass that was caught by Mike Shula for a touchdown. The game ended at 17-7 in favor of Miami. After the game, Osborne said about the play: "We were going to run it anyway. We just decided to go for it on 4th down instead."
Gill finished the game with three touchdowns passes and one rushing touchdown. He also added 49 yards passing and one yard running on the extra point kick. In conclusion, Gill played very well in his first career college bowl game and helped Nebraska beat Miami 17-7.
Namath, Joe Joe Namath (1961–644) Namath established himself as Bryant's (and Alabama's) finest quarterback after declining down professional baseball offers. Namath, an outstanding athlete who scored 15 running touchdowns in his career, led Alabama to the 1964 national championship and posted a 29-4 record as a starter. He passed for 5,097 yards and 56 touchdowns and ran for 1,178 more scores during his time in Tuscaloosa.
After graduating, Namath went on to have a successful career with the New York Jets of the NFL, earning him fame and fortune as one of the first American football players to be paid well. He is also considered by many to be the greatest quarterback in NFL history.
Namath is also known for his outrageous clothes, his blonde hair, and his sexual appeal to women. During his time at Alabama, he started a fashion trend with his unusual wardrobe choices. For example, he often wore green gloves to match his green jersey. Namath also began wearing sneakers instead of shoes which became popular after he played a game in bare feet.
In addition to his athletic ability and charismatic personality, Namath was also highly regarded as a leader by his teammates. In fact, he is still considered by many to be the best quarterback ever to play at Alabama.
The 1966 Alabama Crimson Tide football team (also known as "Alabama", "UA", or "Bama") competed in the NCAA University Division football season for the University of Alabama. Led by third-year head coach Bear Bryant, the Crimson Tide finished with a record of 7–3–1 and were ranked No. 12 in the final AP Poll.
In its first season under the University Division banner, Alabama played ten games, won seven and lost three. The Crimson Tide finished the season ranked No. 12 in the AP poll, their highest ranking to date. After the season, Coach Bryant left Alabama to take over the vacant job at Kentucky. He was replaced by John Patterson, who had been the head coach at USC. Patterson led the Crimson Tide to five winning seasons and a tie for the SEC Championship before being fired after the 1970 season.
After several years without a football program, Alabama returned to the field in 1971. Under new head coach Gene Stallings, the Crimson Tide posted an 8–4 record and made its first ever bowl appearance. In 1972, Alabama went 9–1–1 and earned its first ever #1 ranking. The Crimson Tide lost their only game during this period against Penn State in the 1973 Sugar Bowl. Following this season, Coach Stallings left Alabama to become the head coach at South Carolina.
Both Wisconsin quarterback Ron Vander Kelen and USC quarterback Pete Beathard were voted Rose Bowl Players of the Game. Vander Kelen strung together a string of drives to score 23 consecutive points in the fourth quarter, putting the Badgers in position to win the game. The highlight reel kick return for a touchdown by Wisconsin's Dave Mohr is still considered one of the best plays in Rose Bowl history.
Beathard finished the game with four touchdowns passes and was also responsible for three interceptions. He led USC to a 46-7 victory over Wisconsin in Pasadena, California. The game is often remembered for Vander Kelen's four touchdown passes in the last quarter as the Badgers tried to come back from a 28-point deficit. After the game, Vander Kelen said he wanted to be the first player with 300 career passing yards in a bowl game. He did not fall short of that mark either - he finished with 303 yards through the air.
Vander Kelen went on to have a successful NFL career after the 1963 season. He played seven seasons in the league with Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions. In 1978, Vander Kelen returned to his alma mater to help coach the Wisconsin quarterbacks. He stayed at Wisconsin for only one season before moving on to Texas A&M University where he worked as a color analyst for Aggie football games for several years.