People: Jun. 13, 1969

Perhaps it was only a threat, but the tears were certainly authentic. Joe Willie Namath, quarterback of professional football's world-champion New York Jets, insisted that he meant business when he announced at a news conference that he was "retiring reluctantly" from the game—and taking Teammates George Sauer, Pete Lammons and Jim Hudson with him. The 26-year-old superstar, whose high-velocity passes carried the Jets to a startling 16-7 upset over the National Football League's powerful Baltimore Colts earlier this year, gave as his reason the latest in a long series of off-the-field scraps. This...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!