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'69 New York Jets Continue Their Winning Ways
Date:10/5/2007

Joe Namath's Super Bowl crew has fared better with health than many retired players, study finds

FRIDAY, Oct. 5 (HealthDay News) -- The pluck and luck that helped the upstart New York Jets football team capture Super Bowl III in 1969 -- considered one of the biggest upsets in U.S. sports history -- seems to have followed the players well into their retirement.

A new study finds the collective health of the ex-Jets is just fine.

But the study authors were quick to add that these findings are probably not representative of retired pro football players in general. In fact, controversy continues to grow around calls for compensation to many aging -- and often sick -- retired players.

"I don't think that you can generalize the entire population of pro football based on this small microcosm" of New York Jets, said the study's lead researcher, Dr. Stephen Nicholas. He's director of the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City.

For more than 40 years, Nicholas and his father before him, the late Dr. James Nicholas, have been team doctors for the Jets. The elder Nicholas was charged with the care of the 1969 team, including star quarterback Joe Namath.

At the time, the Jets were dismissed as hopeless underdogs hitched to the maligned American Football Conference. Their 16-7 victory over the prohibitively favored Baltimore Colts of the National Football Conference is considered among the most important pro football games ever played.

Now, drawing on 35 years of follow-up data, researchers led by the younger Nicholas found that the Jets veterans of that legendary match-up -- now averaging 62 years of age -- are in as good or better shape physically and mentally as other men their age.

Thirty-six of the total 41 members of the Jets participated in the study, whose results are published in the October issue of The American
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