Vito “Babe” Parilli, Joe Namath’s able, ageless backup on the Jets’ 1968 Super Bowl team and ’69 playoff squad, has died. He was 87.
Parilli entered the NFL as Green Bay’s first-round pick, fourth overall, in the 1952 draft out of Kentucky, where he QB’d the Wildcats under Paul “Bear” Bryant and was an All-American and two-time Heisman Trophy fnalist. He played with the Packers and Browns and the CFL’s Ottawa Rough Riders in the Fifties, then came to the fledgling American Football League, where he played on the Raiders’ inaugural AFL team in 1960 and then with the Patriots.
Finally, at the age of 38, he came to the Jets after seven seasons as the Patriots’ starting QB in a trade on July 20, 1968, in which the Jets sent QB Mike Taliaferro to Boston, and settled in behind Namath (who of course also played under Bryant at Alabama and who, like Parilli, grew up in Western Pennsylvania) as the ’68 season unfolded.
During the regular season, Parilli, wearing the No. 15 uniform that he sported with the Pats, completed 29 of 55 passes for 401 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions for the Jets. He came on in relief of Broadway Joe in the Dec. 1 home game against the Dolphins, throwing three fourth-quarter TDs, two to Don Maynard and one to Bake Turner, in the Jets’ 35-17 win, and relieved Namath the following two weeks in wins over Cincinnati and at Miami as the playoffs beckoned.
Parilli even appeared briefly on offense in the Super Bowl III triumph over the Baltimore Colts. Namath, en route to his efficient MVP performance, ominously came out late in the third quarter shaking his right hand, the result of a hard hit…
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