While Joe Namath is best known for guaranteeing the New York Jets would upset the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, coming in a close second might be his infamous incident on live TV years later, where he slurred his speech while telling ESPN sideline reporter Suzy Kolber he wanted to kiss her.
In a new autobiography, “All the Way: My Life in Four Quarters,” Namath discusses a battle with alcohol addiction that he fought for decades after his playing career, including how the Kolber incident was a “blessing in disguise” that helped him finally start to turn things around.
“I had embarrassed my friends and family and could not escape that feeling,” Namath wrote. “I haven’t had a drink since.”
Namath said a “voice” in his head often told him to drink — and he nicknamed the voice “Slick.”
“Every now and then Slick whispers, but having a name for him makes me listen to him differently,” Namath wrote. “And, health-wise, I’d probably be dead by now if I hadn’t stopped drinking.”
Namath, nicknamed “Broadway Joe” after joining the AFL’s Jets instead of the NFL, was a notorious ladies’ man during his playing career and spent a lot of time enjoying New York’s club scene.
His ex-wife Deborah tried to get him help, but their divorce in 2000 made things worse for Namath.
“I believe any of us can be brought to our knees whether from physical or emotional pain,” he wrote. “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.”