While Christian Hackenberg has faced heavy criticism regarding his future as an NFL quarterback, he received one meaningful endorsement earlier in the week when Hall of Fame quarterback and all-time great New York Jet Joe Namath said on Tuesday that he would like to see the one-time second round draft pick start this season.
Known for famously guaranteeing a Super Bowl win over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts and always wearing a fur coat, even on the sidelines, Namath is the only quarterback to win a Super Bowl for the Jets so he may have the most authority in the organization to talk about the position.
“I’d like to see Hackenberg get a shot, and I’d like to see him win the job if possible,” he said. “That would give us, ‘Maybe we don’t do it this year, but boy, we’ll get ready next year.’ I’m not wishing Josh [McCown] any bad luck, but I certainly would like to see Hackenberg blossom.”
Although he didn’t note any reason specific to Hackenberg that makes him a favorable option at quarterback, his comments should come as some semblance of encouragement for Hackenberg, who, since the end of last season, has not had much public support from his own team.
Earlier in the year, an anonymous coach was quoted saying that Hackenberg “couldn’t hit an ocean.” Shortly after, Jets owner Woody Johnson did little to defend the critique of his backup quarterback’s ability. Around the same time, a pair of players also privately voiced their discontent , saying that he would “never make it” and wasn’t worth the second round pick.
The one Jet to praise Hackenberg in the media was veteran wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who defended him, said that he loves the former Nittany Lion’s “big arm,” and even compared his leadership to that of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in February before being released a month later (We’re told that Marshall was cut in order to free up cap space, not out of spite because the Jets actually hate Hackenberg).
In two preseason games last season, Hackenberg was 17-of-47 for 159 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions before only dressing for the team’s Week 17 loss to the Buffalo Bills. He will be in a three-man competition for the Jets’ starting job this summer with McCown and Baylor-product Bryce Petty. The Jets seem to be confident in finding a suitable option at quarterback for this season after they passed on available signal callers Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson with the sixth overall pick in last week’s NFL Draft.