Namath had predicted victory, had even guaranteed it, but it was still difficult to grasp. In one afternoon, the Jets completely changed national perception.
In one afternoon, proving that AFL football was at least as good as NFL football, the Jets made the Super Bowl into what it is today.
Before Namath, most fans had agreed with Vince Lombardi, coach of the Green Bay Packers, that the AFL's 10 teams were plucky but weak.
"(Super Bowl III) meant something else to me," Namath said of the game. "I think of it as a win for all the underdogs of the world. A lot of them wrote me that year. They said: 'If you could do it, I can do it.' "
And how did the Jets do it?
At his Carlsbad home, Gillman, a Hall of Famer talking about a Hall of Famer, said: "Namath came to the Super Bowl as the champion of a slightly better league. The AFL was playing a different and better game on offense and defense both.
"(AFL) owners wanted excitement, so the AFL threw the ball--and found that that's the best way to win, too.
"To control the pass, our defensive coaches invented sophisticated modern blitzing. This gave the AFL a leg up when it began interleague play against the NFL."
In the '60s, however, the differences weren't immediately reflected by ticket sales. In the beginning, worried AFL owners often resorted to gimmick promotions. For example, Hunt's team admitted every barber in town free of charge to one game 30 years ago.
"Most barbers are good conversationalists who have a lot to say," Hunt said, recalling his first AFL season. "We wanted them talking about us."
And they did.
"But unfortunately, our next crowd was even smaller," he said. "The barbers bad-mouthed us all week."