"Yeah, I'm all right," I said. I was messed up as I could be.
"You staying clean?"
"Yeah, I'm clean." I was dirty as I could be.
"O.K., man, anytime you have any problems, anything at all, you just give me a call."
I said O.K.
He gave me his card. I already had one.
Despite everything, we thought we were going to have a good season in 1980. But we got upset by the 49ers opening day, and then we lost again, and the rout was on. When we got to 0 and 4, I realized we needed help. The players were in the streets at night, going from house to house, getting stuff. I got out Jackson's card. I called his number in New York and his secretary said he wasn't available at the moment, "but he'll call you right back."
He never did.
And I didn't call him back, either. I was too frustrated and too discouraged. I felt like I was in the water with a bunch of drowning men. But instead of doing something positive, I did something foolish. I told Tom Pratt, the Saints' defensive line coach, that I didn't want to start anymore. I said I was hurt—my right knee was bothering me—and I didn't want the pressure as long as I couldn't contribute. He and Nolan agreed to play Tommy Hart in my place, but each week they'd only leave Hart in for about a quarter, then I'd go in.
We lost 12 straight, and right after a Monday night game with the Rams, the Saints fired Nolan. We had stunk up the joint against the Rams, losing 27-7. I especially hated that because it's embarrassing to lose on Monday night with all those people watching on television. At our next practice I blew up. Actually, blew up is an understatement.