Joe Namath says his pro football career is over, unless the Los Angeles Rams take him off the New York Jets, hands for one last fling. Who cares, anymore?

Namath's declaration on Thursday night's johnny Carson show that it's the Rams or forget it hardly shook up the Jets. "I'm a believer in youth," said new head coach Walt Michaels in opening the door wide for Namath to drag his 33-year-old bones as far as his decimated knees will carry him. "This is all a surprise to us," said Jets' general manager Al Ward, presumably striving manfully to keep from rubbing his hands in glee at Namath's statement that he plans to relieve the Jets of their obligation for an option year on his just-completed $450,000-a-year contract.

As for the Rams, general manager Don Klosterman said, "I can't say that Namath fits any way into our plans because there are questions of his health to be determined." Maybe the biggest news out of the whole "surprise" came when Klosterman cited "our good nucleus in quarter-backs Pat Haden and James Harris --we are not counting on Ron Jaworski, who has indicated he wants to play with another team." Goodbye, Polish Rifle . . .

The St. Louis Blues are about to get shed of center Derek Sanderson, who in his Boston Bruin halcyon years was to hockey what Namath was to football. The flamboyant left-handed shooter has been troubled by a chronic wrist injury while scoring eight goals, 13 assists in 25 games -- at an estimated $200,000 annual salary. The Blues said Sanderson, 30, was put on waivers Thursday, given permission to make a deal for himself, and if no NHL team claimed him today he would be sent to Kansas City in the Central Hockey League. Then Sanderson's lawyer, Bob Woolf of Boston, said five NHL clubs were interested and he hoped to have a new big-league address arranged this weeked -- maybe even back with the Bruins . . .

Job opportunities in hockey are dwindling, though. The Southern Hockey League may have folded by the time you read this.

The Tidewater Sharks and the Winston-Salem Polar Bears threw in their towels (probably unlaundered, so broke were the franchises) yesterday, the third and fourth of the seven SHL members to do so this week. With only Baltimore, Hampton and Charlotte left, it looked like curtains (unlaundered?) . . . Greensboro Generals' general manager-coach John Voss probably put his finger on it --Atlantic Coast Conference college sports and pro sports can't compete . . . Same way around Norfolk, probably, but bad news for Old Diminion U. (6-2) basketball fans there: Jeff Fuhrmann, the 15.7-point, 7.3-rebound forward out of Annandale's Jefferson High broke a bone in his left hand Thursday night and is sidelined a couple of weeks . . .

Breaking up the Yankees, already? Marty Appel, 28, public relations director for the American League pennant wavers, and Joe Garagiola Jr., the Yanks' in-house counsel for three years, quit yesterday to form a partnership "representing professional athletes in all phases of their careers" The thought of Joe Garagiola Jr. being a veteran lawyer already shakes you? Then how about the California Angels' prize prospect, who hit .317 and led the Texas League with 30 homers, 117 RBI in 1976 -- name of Willie Mays Aikens . . . Old Willie's former teammate Willie McCovey having found his way back to the Giants for another shot at 39 (happy birthday come Monday, Big Mac), another of the clan, free-agent second baseman Tito Fuentes late of Big Mac Kroc's Padres also is trying to finagle his way back onto the San Francisco roster after going unclaimed in the re-entry draft . . . And pitcher Mike Torrez would like to further break up the Oakland A's; he's urging his old Montreal Expo bosses to try to swing a trade with Charlie Finley for him. Said Expo general manager Charlie Fox, who used to manage all those Giants, "We're definitely interested in getting both Torrez and Kenny Singleton back." Singleton is still with the Baltimore Orioles, whose trade with Montreal for them turned out to be a stealer.

It was almost break up Mario Andretti yesterday in qualifying runs for Sunday's Argentine Grand Prix in Buenos Aires. The front end of his Lotus MK3 exploded in a black cloud of smoke; Andretti, covered with oil, drove off the track and was taken to a hospital where he checked out O.K. "The fire extinguisher bottle blew up" Andretti said. "I never heard of this happening before -- but there's no question of it being a bomb."

Race drivers have enough hazards without their safety equipment turning on them. . .

The WWDC Radio Oneders open their basketball season tonight vs. faculty at Mount Vernon High but evidently will make do without Oneder Joe Theismann. He is down as guest shooter in the halftime shootout at the Pitt-GW game in Smith Center. That fan-in-the-stands competition, swish a basket from midcourt and win a big prize, rates with the dunk as the new thing in college basketball this season -- one fellow won an automobile at a Maryland game. Anyway, if Red-skin Theismann misses with the basketball, he'll try to heave a football through the hoop from 45 feet to win the $900 kitty. Makes it, Children's Hospital gets the gelt; misses, McDonald's will give the hospital $200 consolation . . .

The Capital Centre boxing card of Jan. 14 has been postponed to Jan. 28.