Tags: Health Topics | Depression | joe namath | alcoholism | divorce | nfl | addiction

Joe Namath Says Drunken National TV Interview Saved Him

joe namath wearing a throwback jets jersey delivers a halftime speech to jets fans
NFL Hall of Famer Joe Namath (Bill Kostroun/AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 08 May 2019 11:04 AM

Twenty years ago, former New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath was on a downward spiral. When he did finally hit rock bottom during a 2003 interview with ESPN's Suzy Kolber, the entire nation saw it.

Namath had been battling with alcohol addiction at the time so when he sat down in front of cameras that fateful day, he was drunk. At one point he told Kolber he wanted to kiss her and added he "couldn't care less" about what was unfolding on the field, The Washington Post noted.

A media frenzy followed in the days after the interview and Namath, who was once considered an iconic rockstar in his own right, walked away humiliated and ridiculed. However, the 75-year-old now believes that was a turning point in his life.

"I saw it as a blessing in disguise," he wrote in his new book, "All the Way: My Life in Four Quarters."

Namath said he validated his excessive drinking with the divorce from ex-wife Deborah but in hindsight would probably be dead if he had not given up alcohol.

"The drinking was what would kick my butt for a long time," he said, according to USA Today. "Emotionally, I used [the divorce] as an excuse to start drinking again. . . . I would drink all day sometimes."

His rude awakening came after coming undone in front of a national audience during the infamous Kolber interview.

"I had embarrassed my friends and family and could not escape that feeling," he said. "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."

Namath said he still gets cravings every now and again but he has managed to create distance with his addiction by giving it a name.

"Every now and then 'Slick' whispers, but having a name for him makes me listen to him differently," he said.

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Twenty years ago, former New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath was on a downward spiral. When he did finally hit rock bottom during a 2003 interview with ESPN's Suzy Kolber, the entire nation saw it.
joe namath, alcoholism, divorce, nfl, addiction, sober
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2019-04-08
Wednesday, 08 May 2019 11:04 AM
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