Joe Namath: ‘I’d probably be dead by now if I hadn’t stopped drinking’

Joe Namath just released his first biography in 50 years , “All the Way: My Life in Four Quarters,” and it features an in-depth look at the famous football player. It talks about him becoming an incredible college player at Alabama, winning the Super Bowl, and his descent into alcohol abuse after his football career.

In the book, which ESPN was able to read early, Namath talks about his excessive drinking. While it wasn’t a huge problem until he retired from the sport, the seeds were planted early on in his football career with the New York Jets. He would frequently stay out late partying and drinking.

“I was in my early 20s when this fame hit, living in one of the sexiest cities in the world. So it felt natural to turn toward it and not shy away. I enjoyed the company of ladies and, man, were there a lot of places servicing the singles crowd.”

It was after he retired that Namath nearly died due to the alcohol problem. His wife asked him to go to therapy, but that didn’t stop the drinking. In the account, he talks about buying a bottle of vodka on his way back from the therapy sessions. The couple divorced in 2000.

Namath also talked about the incident that forced him to take a long and examined look at this problem in his life. It was the infamous sideline interview with ESPN’s Suzy Kolber in 2003. Namath admits to being drunk during that interview.

“I saw it as a blessing in disguise. … I had embarrassed my friends and family and could not escape that feeling. I haven’t had a drink since.

“That shame is where I found my strength to deal with the addiction. With the help of my recovery, I learned that I had used my divorce as an excuse to go back to drinking. That knowledge made me a stronger individual.”

In the book, Namath says that it was a voice in his head telling him to drink constantly. He ended up naming it Slick.

“Every now and then Slick whispers, but having a name for him makes me listen to him differently. And, health-wise, I’d probably be dead by now if I hadn’t stopped drinking.”

After Namath stopped drinking alcohol, he was able to look back at what he’d done during those years and gain some insight about why he drank, and how painful issues such as alcohol abuse can hurt everyone in your life.

“The drinking was what would kick my butt for a long time. … I believe any of us can be brought to our knees whether from physical or emotional pain. Over the years, I learned how fragile we humans can be. Emotionally, I used that as an excuse to start drinking again. … I would drink all day sometimes.”

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