Joe Namath says giving up alcohol saved his life, hasn’t had a drink since infamous ESPN interview

Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath revealed in his autobiography how a post-retirement battle with alcohol almost killed him – and recalled the drunken TV interview that prompted the former New York Jet turn his life around.

Known as “Broadway” Joe for his larger-than-life persona, the 75-year-old wrote that he lost control of his drinking after his divorce in 2000, ESPN reported, citing a selection from the star’s book, "All the Way: My Life in Four Quarters." Namath writes that he believes he’d “probably be dead by now” if he hadn’t quit.


"The drinking was what would kick my butt for a long time," Namath writes, as cited by 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."

Joe Namath says he believes he wouldn't be alive today if he hadn't gotten help for his alcohol addiction. 

Joe Namath says he believes he wouldn't be alive today if he hadn't gotten help for his alcohol addiction.  (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

During an infamous sideline interview in 2003 with ESPN’s Suzy Kolber, a drunken Namath told the reporter he wanted to kiss her. The Super Bowl III MVP writes that the “shame” from the incident helped him fight his addiction.

"I saw it as a blessing in disguise," writes Namath. "I had embarrassed my friends and family and could not escape that feeling. I haven't had a drink since.”

Namath appeared on "The Michael Kay Show" Tuesday and addressed how his life today would have been different if he had continued drinking to excess.

“I really believe I wouldn’t be here today,” Namath said. “I wouldn’t be a healthy Joe Namath today. I wouldn’t be lucky today with my family, living every day and sharing every day with the grandchildren and living with my friends…I don’t think I would have survived.”


In the book, Namath recounts other highs and lows he’s experienced, including the Jets' win over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III and his concerns over traumatic brain issues that many former NFL players face.