What seems to disarm Switzer's enemies is his ability to smile in the face of pain. Every few months he requires spinal injections to alleviate the neck and back pain that has plagued him for several years. He also suffers from attention deficit disorder, which is why he has a bottle of Ritalin on his office desk. It is mostly full. Switzer used the drug for two months last season but stopped because he felt it dulled his senses.
On Wednesday of last week Switzer was in hyperdrive as he cruised down MacArthur Boulevard in Irving to his weekly radio show. He was telling the story of the time in 1983 when, on a coaches cruise in the Caribbean, he jokingly set up ultrastraight Penn State coach Joe Paterno with a drug peddler. Switzer and a 20-something female companion were sitting in a thatched hut on an island beach, about 20 yards behind a group of coaches and wives, when an islander pulled out a bag and offered to sell him a joint. "I said, 'Listen, I've got all the dope I need, but see that guy with the thick glasses? He's been looking for some good stuff all weekend. He'll buy everything you've got.' Well, the guy goes up to Paterno, and I see him pull the bag out. Paterno goes crazy, and the guy looks up and points at me, and I'm laughing my ass off."
Switzer is laughing so hard at the memory that he becomes oblivious to the traffic around him and veers into the left lane before coming to a stop. Several drivers have to alter their paths. They recognize him. Not one honks his horn in anger.