These are ego-shattering days for Joe Namath.

As of Friday afternoon, no National Football League Club had tried to claim him off the waiver list, he was placed on by the New York Jets on April 1.

If there is no claim by 4 p.m. Tuesday, he will be a free agent. If there is a claim, the Jets would have 24 hours to recall him from the waiver list, but that is not likely.

They already have formally declined to exercise their option to have him play for them for at least another season.

As a player with more than four years' experience, Namath could refuse to report to a team that claimed him, because he can opt to become a free agent under the new union contract.

He wants to play for the Los Angeles Rams and they probably will be wanting to sign Namath at a sharply reduced salary when and if he achieves free agency.

But Namath and attorney Jimmy Walsh would have a big decision to make if, say, Tampa Bay claimed Namath.

Tampa Bay would be obligated to assume Namath's salary under the terms of his contract with the Jets, believed to be $450,000 annually. The Rams are said to be interested in paying maybe only one-third that much.

Namath reportedly prefers the Los Angeles area because of his film and television expectations there. But he also has favored the Miami area in past winters.

Although he will be 34 on May 31 and has asked to be traded, it often comes as a jolt when a player changes clubs. Norm Van Brocklin once demanded that the Rams trade him and, when they did, to Philadelphia, he said it hurt him.

Why, if he asked for a deal? "Well," he explained, "it hurts to find out that your old club thinks it canget along without you."