“I saw it as a blessing in disguise,” Namath, now 75, writes in a new book, “All the Way: My Life in Four Quarters.” “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.”
Namath had been urged to seek help during his marriage, which ended in 2000. He saw a psychologist in California but would purchase a pint of vodka on the way home from the sessions. “I thought I could get away with that, but she [his ex, Deborah] could smell it,” he writes, adding that “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.”
The breaking point, he writes, was the Kolber interview. Namath called Kolber to apologize and sought treatment. “I think the way I felt about it at the time,” she said in an HBO documentary on Namath, “was that he’s a really good guy having a bad moment that happened to be captured on national television.”
Namath said he felt “awful about what I exposed her to that night.” Now 15 years sober, Namath refers to alcohol as “Slick” and refers to it as a companion whose company he still must resist.
“Every now and then Slick whispers, but having a name for him makes me listen to him differently,” Namath writes. “And, health-wise, I’d probably be dead by now if I hadn’t stopped drinking.”
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