In a sea of purple

The Baltimore Sun

Joe Namath came to M&T; Bank Stadium yesterday and didn't cause that much of a stir, considering his history with football fans in Baltimore.

It certainly helped that he was disguised as Greg Hagarman, a 48-year-old machinist from Hanover, Pa. He looked a little shorter than most remember, but he had the bad knee to prove it.

"I lost my kneecap in an accident," Namath, uh, Hagarman said as he stood in Lot B, drinking his first beer of the day, his throwback green-and-white No. 12 jersey swallowed up in a sea of Ravens purple.

Hagarman has been a New York Jets fan since he was 10, mainly because "my mother thought Joe Namath was a good-looking guy back then."

Through the years, Hagarman has remained true to the Jets through thick and mostly thin. His wife, Kathy, became a Jets fan "by marriage," as did their two now college-age kids.

Hagarman has followed the Jets to a few road games, including Buffalo, where his uncle, Al Beemiller, played center when Jack Kemp was the Bills' quarterback, and Baltimore, but has never seen the inside of Shea Stadium or Giants Stadium.

In fact, yesterday was his second trip to Baltimore, the first time coming two years ago when the Ravens won, 13-3.

"I think they brought Vinny Testaverde out of retirement for that one," Hagarman joked.

Hagarman came down from Hanover with a hearty group of two dozen or so Ravens season-ticket holders, including his uncle, Steve Weaver.

"He doesn't know any better," said Weaver, who is president of Hanover's chapter of the Ravens Roost. "He's a good boy, but we bring him down."

Hagarman's decision to bring Namath out of retirement - or at least wear the throwback jersey his wife bought for him two years ago - was based in part on the physical condition of the Jets' current quarterback.

"I was going to wear [Chad] Pennington, but he's hurt," Hagarman said.

One of Hagarman's favorite childhood memories was watching Super Bowl III between the Jets and Baltimore Colts at his house with neighbors who were Colts fans.

Did they leave mad after Baltimore's 16-7 loss?

"No," Hagarman said, smiling at the memory. "They left drunk."

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