The Washington Post

Joe Namath made his pro football debut at George Washington High in Alexandria

In this Jan. 1, 1965, file photo, Alabama coach Paul Bryant puts his arm around quarterback Joe Namath in the dressing room after losing to Texas in the Orange Bowl NCAA college football game in Miami. Alabama (10-1), led by Namath, was named No. 1 in both the AP and coaches poll at the end of the regular season. Notre Dame was ranked No. 1 for the last month of the 1964 season, but was upset in the season finale by Southern California. Four years later, Namath would lead the New York Jets to win the Super Bowl, also in Miami. And Alabama and Notre Dame are playing for the national championship tonight, also in Miami. (AP)

It was Joe Namath, who made a big splash by coming out of Alabama in 1965 and signing not with the NFL but the upstart American Football League and the New York Jets. And for his first exhibition game as a rookie that summer, the Jets took to the road and played the Houston Oilers in the confines of the old George Washington High School Memorial Stadium in Alexandria.

The WETA blog Boundary Stones recently dug out this historical gem, with the help of the George Washington High School Alumni Association. The high school’s stadium, which already had a capacity of nearly 15,000, was expanded to 25,000 and tickets sold for the outrageous sum of $6.00 to see the young star who had just signed the biggest contract in football history.

Namath apparently was pretty impressive in his first outing, throwing for 110 yards and helping to put up 13 points for the Jets while playing just the first half. Three years later, he led the Jets to win Super Bowl III. For more info and photos about why and how this momentous game happened in Alexandria, go to Boundary Stones here.

Tom Jackman is a native of Northern Virginia and has been covering the region for The Post since 1998.


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