I was so wild about winning. It's all I cared about, winning, winning. All I thought about. I never talked about anything else. I spent three years with the Browns, 1979 through '81. I had brought the steroids with me to Cleveland from Los Angeles, where I spent the off-seasons. It's easier to get them in L.A. than anywhere else. Guys on the Browns came to me and asked about steroids, and I'd tell them who to call or I'd give them what I had. They'd take them in the privacy of their own homes, and it wasn't talked about much—not in the locker room. If you were in the gym, you might say something, but you had to be very quiet because there were detectives around. I wasn't a dealer, but if I was asked, I'd help other guys get steroids. Because they were doing for me what I wanted them to do, I hoped they would do the same for the other players.
When I went to the Raiders in 1982, I took more and more doses and different combinations. Orally and injecting. I felt I had to keep up. I didn't sleep much, maybe three or four hours a night. My system would run so fast. I was taking the whole spectrum now. I'd feel my body close up on one drug, and I'd switch to another until my body would open up to the first one again.
I'm convinced that my biggest mistake was never going off cycle. According to the guys around the gym, if you go on steroids for six to eight weeks, then you're supposed to stop for the same number of weeks. Me, I'd be on the stuff for 10 or 12 weeks, and then I'd go off for only two, maybe three weeks, and I'd feel that was enough. It was addicting, mentally addicting. I just didn't feel strong unless I was taking something.
A lot of the guys on the Raiders asked me about steroids, and I'd help them get what they needed. A lot had their own sources. But I was the guy to get them if they needed something. I kept progressing into stronger things, the last stuff I remember taking was something called Bolasterone and Quinolone—very dangerous. Steroids can raise your cholesterol level, and at one point late in my career my cholesterol was over 400. I was warned, but I wouldn't listen.
I had injected so much that a few years ago a plastic surgeon operated on my butt. I had these lumps under my skin from where the needles went in. He went in and removed one baseball-sized mass of tissue and then found a bigger one underneath.
I got moodier and moodier, too. I had a couple of divorces. I yelled all the time. Anytime I'd walk into a restaurant or a bar, I always felt like I had to check everything out to make sure no one was going to mess with me. I was so high-strung that I needed to play a game every day. That is what was so hard when I decided to retire. I'd had an Achilles injury, which I'm sure was a result of all the steroid use. I've heard that steroids can lead to weakened tendons. I tore my biceps clear in half, everything on the left side of my body tore, and I think it was because of the long usage of some of that stuff.
All along, even after I retired, I was getting stuff from a gentleman who works out of one of the L.A. gyms. He was making a ton of money. In fact, most of the dealers don't have to do any other work. I went up to northern California a couple of times and bought stuff from a guy in San Jose, Steve Coons. He sold me the Bolasterone. [Coons is in custody awaiting trial after being indicted in a drug-related conspiracy and mail fraud case in the U.S. district court in San Jose.]
As I said, I kept taking the stuff after retiring from the Raiders in 1985. I couldn't stand the thought of being weak. I tried to taper down. Mostly I was taking lower dosages of Anavar and Equipoise. I thought it was stuff that would help me. But I know now I should have gone off it. I stayed too big, too mean. And that's probably why the idea came into my head to try to make a comeback last year. Everyone kept asking me why the Raiders weren't tough anymore, and I just decided to prove to everyone that I could come back. But that's what got me into real trouble. That's when things got really crazy.
I decided to take human growth hormone. They used to get it from glands in cadavers, but they started making genetically engineered HGH in 1985. I was 41 last year, and I decided that in order for me to make that comeback, for my body to remain intact, I had to use the growth hormone. I started taking it in mid-June and used it right up until this March along with testosterone cypionate, an anabolic steroid.
The cypionate gives you the size. And the growth hormone, well, it gives you muscle mass. I'd take two vials—one a fluid and one a white substance—and mix them together, and I'd have growth hormone. Then I'd inject it. It cost me a lot of money, $4,000 for 16 weeks just for the growth hormone. At times in my career I probably spent $20,000 to $30,000 a year on different stuff. But the HGH was still a big added expense. I got it from the guy at the gym. It wasn't the stuff from cadavers; it was the other kind.