Joe Namath and Derek Jeter, two iconic figures in New York sports history, met on Monday at the Yankees’ Grapefruit League game at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.
Namath, wearing a Yankees uniform with his old No. 12 on the jersey, sat in the dugout with the Yankees captain during batting practice of the team’s spring training game against the Washington Nationals.
The 70-year-old Hall of Fame quarterback referred to the meeting as “another highlight in my sporting life!” on his Facebook page.
Namath praised Jeter for his conduct on and off the field during his career in baseball.
“Knowing the scrutiny that he’s had over the years, I can’t imagine how the guy could be an angel like this,” Namath said.
“He’s to be respected in every phase of his life, it seems,” he said.
“Many of us fell short with some of that, but you learn to bounce back. It’s human to err, and I know about that. We do our best to come back. Derek hasn’t made many errors that I’ve witnessed,” Namath added.
The two had met once before, Jeter said, and spoke briefly while filming a commercial 1997 in for Nobody Beats the Wiz, a former electronics chain. The Yankees player was glad to spend more time conversing with Namath.
“I didn’t watch him play football, because I’m too young, but I’ve admired his confidence, the confidence he played with,” Jeter said.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he was excited to have Namath in uniform and at the game, and asked Namath to serve as a team co-manager for the day. Namath brought the lineup card to home plate.
“It’s special. This was excitement from the get-go, when I talked to some folks about being here,” Namath said.
“I’m a baseball fan, I’m a Yankees fan, I’m a people fan. So yeah, this is very special,” Namath continued.
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