John E. Price (Independent Folklorist)
After the underdog Jets defeated the dynastic Colts in Super Bowl III, sportswriters declared Joe Namath "the folk hero of the new generation." A man of his time, Namath transcended media celebrity and engaged marketing like no one before him. His manufactured persona weaved into and reflected the larger burgeoning youth counterculture and Namath made himself a symbol–a hero of popular culture, distributed and celebrated by popular culture. Figures like Namath both allow and demand folklorists to reevaluate the definition of "folk hero" to reflect the mass media environment that defined the twentieth century and beyond.
Part of 08-13 Legendary Personalities, Saturday, October 15, 10:30 am–12:30 pm