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Legendary Photos: The Stories Behind 7 of Walter Iooss Jr.’s Iconic Images

Sports photographer discusses his classic shots

Joe Namath, 1969

Photo of Joe Namath

A couple of things about this picture. Number one, I was a major Colt fan in 1969. I grew up loving the Baltimore Colts and Johnny Unitas, Raymond Berry and Lenny Moore. So, Neil Leifer, the great photographer, was assigned to cover the Colts and I was given the Jets. I was like, “Damn it. I could have finally hung out with Johnny,” and I was pretty angry. And by the way, if the Jets had lost this game, this picture would never have been seen. It’s true and no one could pull that picture off more than Joe. It was his eyes and his smile. That’s why he was the prince of New York and on the last good Jets team for the last 50 years.

An interesting sidenote about this image. There was this university professor I spoke to a couple of days ago who was able to identify every person in the photo, by name. Even the guy with his head cut off in the blue shirt. I couldn’t believe it. He sent me the list. I mean, I was astonished. The two ladies behind Joe are friends he met while he was at the University of Alabama, and they used to bring him food. So, he invited them to come to the Super Bowl and this was the day before he made the statement, “We are going to beat the Colts.”

The photo was taken in the Galt Ocean Mile Resort in Fort Lauderdale. That’s where the Jets were staying. I don’t know where my Colts were staying. Probably in Miami. Yeah. I love that picture and you can see my shadow on the back of the guy with the newspaper on his head.

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