Jets Legend Joe Namath Praises Winston Hill: 'Winston Was The Man'
No one benefitted more from Winston Hill than Joe Namath. Now, the New York Jets legendary quarterback will be joined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame by the left tackle who protected his blindside for the prime years of both their respective careers.
On Wednesday, it was announced that Hill was one of 15 honorees who are part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Centennial Slate. Hill, who passed away in 2016, is one of 10 senior players on the list. A senior is defined as players who last played more than 25 years ago.
On the Jets, Hill was rock solid, including starting 174 consecutive games. He was a big, physical player according to his teammates but he ahead of his time in terms of overall athleticism with an ability to move down the field fluidly. In addition, Hill was a quiet leader in the locker room who was known to lead the Jets in prayer before and after the games.
For Namath, still the only quarterback to win the Jets a Super Bowl, the impact of Hill on the team was immense.
“I don’t remember Winston ever getting beat by someone,” Namath told SportsIllustrated.com. “He never let us down. Winston was the man.”
Hill signed as a rookie free agent with the Jets in 1963 when they were a part of the American Football League. He would make four Pro Bowls and played with the Jets until 1976. In 1977, he played his final NFL season with the Los Angeles Rams.
He was an influential part of the Jets offensive line that sparked the team in 1968 through the playoffs and eventually beat the heavily-favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.
That Super Bowl game is considered by many to be among the finest performance of Hill’s career. He was dominant and paved the way for an efficient offense that ground out yards against a vaunted Colts defense.
“Watch him against Oakland in the championship game and Baltimore in the Super Bowl,” Namath said.
“Good Lord. He was just wonderful. Without him, or with a lesser effort by anyone in that position, we wouldn’t have been able to win the championship.”
The enshrines of the Centennial Slate were selected by a ‘Blue-Ribbon Panel’ that met at the Pro Football Hall of Fame last week to decide on the induction class. Among those on the panel was SportsIllustrated.com’s Gary Myers.