Former New York Jets star Joe Namath has come clean in a new book over his post-football career alcohol addiction, a habit that nearly cost him his life, according to ESPN.
The legendary quarterback says it got to a point to where a voice in his head told him to drink — a voice Namath named Slick, ESPN reported.
“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,” Namath writes in All the Way: My Life in Four Quarters, his first autobiography in 50 years.
The notoriously private 1970s-era icon covers a wide range of personal and professional experiences in the book, according to ESPN — from football-induced brain trauma and his Super Bowl III victory to his path to sobriety after years of alcohol abuse.
Namath, now 75, admits his infamous 2003 sideline interview with Suzy Kolber — where he drunkenly told the reporter he wanted to kiss her — was a turning point in his life.
“I saw it as a blessing in disguise,” Namath writes, ESPN reported. “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.”
A 2000 divorce to his ex-wife Deborah made Namath even more of a problem-drinker, the Hall of Fame quarterback reportedly recounts.
“The drinking was what would kick my butt for a long time,” Namath writes, according to ESPN. “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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