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WHERE HAVE YOU GONE, JOE NAMATH?
Mark Kriegel
August 09, 2004
From star quarterback and world-class bachelor to hard-drinking pitchman and devoted father, the life of Broadway Joe has taken unlikely turns that even he couldn't have predicted. An excerpt from a revealing new biography
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August 09, 2004

Where Have You Gone, Joe Namath?

From star quarterback and world-class bachelor to hard-drinking pitchman and devoted father, the life of Broadway Joe has taken unlikely turns that even he couldn't have predicted. An excerpt from a revealing new biography

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This was all to Namath's liking. For once, the matter of salary never came up, as Walsh had already assured Weisman: "Money won't be an issue." Joe, who couldn't have been nicer or more receptive, made it clear he just wanted another shot.

But Joe's cordiality is not what stands out in Weisman's recollection of the evening. Rather, it's Deborah, or as Carol called her once by mistake, "Debbie."

"My name is not Debbie," she said, "It's Deborah."

The severity in her tone caused conversation to come to a momentary halt. "It got our attention," says Weisman. "She was very serious." Weisman thought Joe might say something to break the tension; after all, it had been an honest mistake. But Joe remained silent.

Later that evening, Deborah mentioned that she met her husband at a class. "Oh," said Weisman, trying to make conversation, "you're going to be an actress."

"No," she said sternly. "I am an actress."

Then followed another awkward lull, which Joe again ignored until the small talk resumed. Before the evening was over, though, Weisman made it clear to Joe how much he had meant to him, growing up in Queens.

"Mike," said Joe, "you're telling me these stories, I'm getting goose bumps."

As he spent more time with Joe, Weisman discovered that there were a lot of guys who felt as he had. How many times had he seen it happen? A dozen? A hundred? And in how many cities? They felt a need to tell Namath where they were, who they were with, how they felt, what it meant, that they, too, had predicted it. They had been with him. They had been young. "You're giving me goose bumps," Joe would say.

At first, Weisman was taken aback by Namath's apparent insincerity, but with time he came to think differently. Joe could have told these people, "That's nice," or simply have said nothing at all. But goose bumps were an acknowledgment that the stranger's confession had been heard. Joe might as well have said, "Go in peace."

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