"I have four dogs, two cats, two daughters and a wonderful wife," Namath says. "I wouldn't exactly call that quiet. Different, I guess."
It rains on and off all day. Namath tries to play golf but is rained out after six holes. I spend most of the afternoon in my hotel room, reading a play, The Seagull, by Anton Chekhov. Tatiana is going to produce the play at the arcLight Theatre, which is located in the basement of a church on West 71st Street in New York City. This is going to be a family production. Tatiana will play a role. Joe will also play a role.
"This is her thing," Namath says when we meet again at his house. "It's something she always wanted to do. She's using her own money. I wasn't going to be in it, but there's this role—Dorn, the doctor. Everyone who read the play said I should do it. Tatiana said I should do it."
"He's perfect," she says. "The character is a 55-year-old man, still handsome, still attractive to women. He's traveled. There's another character, Sorin, who's very bitter. Dorn tries to give him advice. Sorin says, 'Easy for you to talk, you've lived a good life. I haven't done any of the things you have done.' I mean, who are we talking about here?"
The play had only four performances, June 24-26, because that was all the money Tatiana had in her budget. The entire Namath family spent a month in New York City, where Joe still owns an apartment. Tatiana would love to live in the city full time. Joe is not so sure. Florida has the weather. Florida has space. New York City is still available: a 20-minute drive to the airport and about a three-hour flight. Almost a commute. "Early in our marriage we bought a farm in Connecticut," Joe says. "After the first winter, we just looked at each other and came to Florida. We've promised the kids that sometime we'll live on a farm again, so I don't know. We'll see what happens."
He gives a quick tour of the house. Tatiana has done the decorating in a French farmhouse style. Joe laughs when he shows his own bathroom. It is the luxury of luxuries. The house in which he grew up in Beaver Falls had one bathroom for the seven Namaths—behind the coal burner in the basement. Go to the bathroom? Go to the basement.
In his office there are a couple of LeRoy Neiman paintings of Namath, and in the garage there are a few more football pictures, but the house is far from being a football shrine. A ball signed by Bubby Brister, the former Pittsburgh Steelers starting quarterback and current Denver Broncos backup, sits in the middle of a row of Namath's game balls on the top shelf of the bookcase in the den. There was a charity auction at a golf tournament, and Namath bought the Brister ball. What the heck.
"Classic Sports set me up with DirecTV last year," Namath says. "I had that NFL season ticket, every game that's played. Amazing. I could watch the Jets every week, here in Florida. Not that there was a lot to watch, but I had the opportunity to do it. That first weekend, I was a kid in a candy store. I sat here all day."
"He usually doesn't do that, either," Tatiana says. "He's usually good that way."
"My back hurt at the end of the day," Joe says.