Broadway Joe.... "Sherman Plunkett [a 300-pound Jets tackle] gave me the name," Namath says. "Sherman, he's not with us anymore, used to dress right across from me, just this massive guy. I used to help him take his pads off, he was so big. My picture was on the cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED with Broadway in the background, and someone had put a copy of the issue in everyone's locker. It was kind of embarrassing, you know? Sherman picks up the magazine and stares at the cover. 'Broaaad-way Joe!' he shouts. 'Broaaad-way Joe!' And it stuck. I never minded it, really, because it was from Sherman and it made people smile. I mean, I've never seen anyone say 'Broadway Joe' without a smile on his face."
Howard Cosell.... "Howard and Dick Schaap were in my living room," Namath says. "We were going to go somewhere. Howard was talking. Ray Abruzzese, who was a safety on the Jets and my roommate, came stumbling out of his bedroom. He said to Howard, 'Oh, I thought you were the television. I was coming out to turn you off.' Howard was speechless. It was the best! Howard tried to come back. He started calling Ray every name in the book: 'You Italian so-and-so.' It was too late. Ray just destroyed him."
Johnnie Walker Red.... "The first year , we were playing up in New England, and I bruised my hip," Namath says. "It was killing me, hurting worse and worse while we flew home. I got to the apartment and asked my roommate Joe Hirsch, the turf writer, to give me a drink of something. There were all these bottles. I said, 'Give me whatever tastes the worst.' He gave me Johnnie Walker Red. That was the first time I ever had it. It did taste terrible, but it made the pain go away."
Drugs.... "I never saw a drug of any kind, not even marijuana, in four years of college at Alabama," Namath says. "I was just a couple of years before all that. Which was good. There were amphetamines in pro football, greenies or whatever they were called, but I was a quarterback and needed a clear head, so they were out of the question. Other guys, though, you could tell when they were using them.
"I remember standing in the end zone before one game, waiting for the introductions. The two teams were next to each other. I heard this sound, 'Uhhhhh.' I looked over, and there was this defensive lineman for the other team, maybe six-foot-five, maybe 300 pounds, right next to me. He was sweating like crazy. His eyes were all bloodshot. He said, 'Uhhhhhhh.' I said, 'Oh, my.' "
Alabama.... "Growing up in Pennsylvania, I never really knew anything about racial discrimination," Namath says. "The one thing I remember, I was maybe eight or 10 years old, and my friend and I went into a pizza store. The woman said my friend had to leave. I could stay, but he had to leave. He was black. We both left, of course, never went back.
"Then I went to Alabama. Not only was the school segregated, but the whole SEC was segregated. I was overwhelmed. I hadn't even wanted to go to college. I wanted to sign a baseball contract. I had offers from the Cincinnati Reds, the Chicago Cubs and other teams. My mother wouldn't let me accept any of them because she wanted me to have an education. My brothers wouldn't let me. Howard Schnellenberger, who was one of Bear Bryant's assistants, came to my house just before the school year started. My mother and brothers made me go to Alabama, right then, in Howard's car.
"The school was integrated in my sophomore year. The National Guard was everywhere. You needed a pass just to get on campus. I was as close as from here to that wall to George Wallace on the steps of the auditorium as he stood outside the door when Vivian Malone came to register. I've gotten to know her through the years, just a terrific gal."
Jackie Gleason.... "I started coming to Florida in the winter after my first year with the Jets," Namath says. "Dr. [James] Nicholas [the team doctor] told me I should go somewhere warm, for my knees. I got to know Gleason [who was a friend of Werblin's] that winter. He challenged me once to a golf match for $10,000. What could I do? I brought my checkbook just in case. Here was the foursome: Gleason, Arnold Palmer, a doctor from Honolulu who'd paid $10,000 to charity to play a round of golf with Gleason, and me. We were rained out after nine holes, but I was 7 up on Gleason. He was just playing bad."
Injury.... "The worst injury was not to my knees," Namath says. "Before my final season , with the Los Angeles Rams [with whom he signed after he was waived by the Jets that same year], I tore off two of the three hamstring muscles in my left leg while waterskiing. There was nothing they could do for that, no way they could reattach the muscle. It really doesn't matter in normal life, because the hamstrings mostly are used for running. But in football.... I could take a one-step drop, and then I couldn't go anywhere. That was it.