"I hate Beverly Hills," said Joe. "That's why I got out of there. I don't want them growing up there."
They talked some more, then Joe walked him to his car. "If you ever need anything, call me," said Sal. "You can't be sitting alone in this house. Don't do this to yourself."
"C'mon," Sal said, finally. You're Broadway Joe.
Namath smirked, signaling contempt for his own mythic self.
"Joe!" said Sal, trying to get his attention. "Everybody loves you, Joe."
Sal got in his rental and started to drive. He was approaching the Intracoastal Waterway when he thought to look back. Who'd have thought it would be like this, Joe Namath alone, drinking in the shadows. So there were no guarantees, after all.
"Depression," Namath would say, "has a way of sneaking up on you." Eventually, a doctor would prescribe an antidepressant. In the meantime, Joe did what he knew how to do. He had been medicating himself for most of his adult life. The oldest pain he knew came with a silent call: A vinculo matrimonii. Heal thyself. Start sipping, Old Joe.
On Aug. 23, 2000, the Miami Dolphins hosted a tribute to Dan Marino at Pro Player Stadium, where Namath was scheduled to speak. But just minutes before he was to go on, 52,000 fans were told that he had run into "transportation problems." In fact, according to the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Namath "was so disoriented he could barely stand up or talk."
A man named Kevin Barry saw him in the VIP room before the festivities. Barry had wanted to tell him that he had been a Jets ball boy at Peekskill Military Academy, and especially wanted Joe to know that he had taken good care of his dog, Fancy Pharaoh. But Joe didn't look to be in a conversational mood. He sat near a corner of the room, a good-looking middle-aged blonde behind him. Joe was slumped in his chair, head down, a glass in his hand.