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Joe Namath calls Jets relationship 'clumsy, awkward'

Part of us wishes Joe Namath was above it.

The New York Jets are in turmoil -- again -- stumbling through an embarrassing preseason typified by the continued mishandling of the quarterback position. The Jets are practically inventing ways to foist trouble upon themselves these days.

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The latest innovation was a doozy, as coach Rex Ryan inserted his presumptive Week 1 starting quarterback into the fourth quarter of a meaningless preseason game. The Jets won the Snoopy Bowl over the "rival" New York Giants but lost Mark Sanchez to a shoulder injury. The decision-making was surprising; the result cruelly inevitable.

It's all grim stuff, and the last thing the organization needs right now is Namath -- still the Jets' shining son at 70 -- throwing more gasoline on the fire. But Broadway Joe is not to be muzzled, and so it was that the Hall of Fame quarterback explained his thoughts on the Jets during a Tuesday guest spot on "The Rich Eisen Podcast."

"I wish (Ryan) would just say it was wrong -- 'I made a mistake,' " he said in that unmistakable Namathian drawl. "But instead he was talking about the competitive feelings of wanting to win. That's just beating around the bush. My man made a mistake, Rich!

"You do not put your quarterback in there in that situation, not the guy that is probably going to be your starter behind a makeshift offensive line in a preseason game," Namath added. "Come on. There was no rhyme or reasoning to that."

Namath was asked to describe the current state of his relationship with the team.

"Clumsy, awkward. Expressing myself and giving my opinions ... none of us when we're in position to be critiqued, if it's not good we don't like to hear it," he said. "And I know it's been uncomfortable for the Jets, Mr. (Woody) Johnson, Rex or whatever. It's uncomfortable for me, it has been for me since I've been around and noticed a subtle change in our relationships."

The Jets have had multiple fallow periods in the nearly 40 years since Namath took his last snap at Shea Stadium, but Namath didn't find his voice as a critic of the team until the Ryan regime began to crumble.

It all feels personal and not particularly pleasant.

Listen to the full interview with Joe Namath and Rich's chat with Fox broadcaster Joe Buck on the latest edition of "The Rich Eisen Podcast." Click here to subscribe to Rich's podcast.

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