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New York Jets Quarterback Richard Todd Aug. 1, 1983

As a teenager in Mobile, Ala., Richard Todd looked up to Joe
Namath, whose path he followed first as a star quarterback at
Alabama, then as the No. 1 draft pick of the New York Jets in
1976. The chance to play on the same team as his hero was, Todd
said, "a dream come true." Today, his memories from 11 years in
the NFL don't seem quite the stuff of dreams. "When you're
younger you think football is just a fun game," he says. "Let's
be honest, it's not."

Todd spent his first eight years with the Jets, and his
disillusionment came early. New York released Namath after the
'76 season and handed his job to the 23-year-old Todd. The fans
and media in the Big Apple expected a smooth transition; when
Todd threw more interceptions than touchdown passes in each of
his first five seasons, he was booed brutally and bashed by the
press. In '81 Todd snapped, shoving a New York Post reporter
against a locker. Says Todd with a sigh, "I wish I was more
patient with the media. But being a quarterback in New York
isn't easy."

The next year, however, he made it look simple. He inspired Jets
fans to wave TODD IS GOD signs as he led the team to the
playoffs, where he completed 67.3% of his throws in wins over
the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Raiders. The
following week, in the AFC Championship Game against the Miami
Dolphins, Todd strutted onto the rain-soaked field at the Orange
Bowl thinking Super Bowl. "We were prepared," he recalls. "I was
ready." Those who watched him in the Jets' 14-0 loss would say
otherwise. He connected on just 15 of 37 passes for 103 yards
and threw five interceptions, one of which was returned for a
touchdown. A year later Todd was dealt to the New Orleans Saints.

For Todd, life has improved since he left the NFL. He works as a
manager and salesman for Bear, Stearns & Co. in Atlanta. He and
his wife, Lulu, have what Richard calls "a modern marriage," in
which he keeps an apartment near the office and flies his 310
Cessna on weekends to Florence, Ala., where Lulu lives with
their children, Richard, 11, Darbi, 7, and James, 2. He says he
doesn't miss the game. He definitely doesn't miss the jeers. "If
I could do it all over again, maybe I'd be a backup
quarterback," says Todd. "Everybody likes them."