As we talk,
Namath fishes off his dock. He has had a line in the water for an hour and has
had his bait stolen three times, and finally there's a bite. The fish he reels
in is perhaps two inches long. "So you're the one that's been eating my
bait," says Namath, who removes the hook and throws the fish back.
"Well, at least I didn't get shut out."
according to Debbie, is "a real throwback. Everyone has four children, they
play kickball in the streets, there are bicycles everywhere. It's safe, small.
It's what we like."
Every so often
during the week a car will pull up and people will stare. "You can't do
anything about it," Namath says. "But it's no problem, none at all.
"You know, I
devoted a lot of time to acting when I quit football. It was what I wanted as a
career. But I haven't gone on the boards since Jessica was born. What I want
now is to be home with my family. Is it over? I wouldn't say that. There might
come a time when I'll crave it again—exciting, challenging, excruciating at
an area where you're considered best to one in which you know yourself that
you're not good, well, it's tough. Dealing with all the great artists I dealt
with, dealing with the harsh criticism—sometimes that criticism just made you
cringe. I've never known anyone who didn't cringe under it. All I can say is
that I worked as hard at the profession as I could. Not many people know that I
was taking acting lessons while I was still playing. I secretly enrolled in an
acting course at Hofstra."
That was about
the time that Namath went from the Jets to the Rams, when his football career
was all but over.
"As far as my
life in football is concerned, yes, I would take it again, even though every
year was emotionally and physically tough. I never played a down of pro
football with a good knee. My game was left in college. Dr. Nicholas of the
Jets didn't see my knee until I'd hurt it for the fifth time. I'd had it go out
and ripped five times before he operated on it the first time. I kept tearing
it up at Alabama.
"But I still
had some mobility, until I tore two hamstring muscles waterskiing. That was
awful. My last six or seven years in the NFL, I could take one stride setting
up, then maybe a second one, then I'd be breaking down by the fourth."
There are four
steps leading down from the back of Namath's house. He says he'll have a
banister installed "and blame it on my mother."
knee bothers me now more than ever," he says. "In 1977 I was told I'd
need a new joint. I held off, but I might have to put it in now. I get scared
in airports, going down steps. Sometimes my left or right knee will catch. I
haven't fallen down, but I've had to drop my bags and catch on to