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Boomer Esiason's typical weekday goes like this: Up at 4:15 a.m. at his Manhasset, N.Y., home, into the WFAN studios in Manhattan's West Village by 5:30 to do his 6-to-10 morning radio show, then various assignments for CBS's NFL Today or Westwood One's weekly pregame show. Three nights a week Esiason plays hockey in an adult league on Long Island. He captains his team, plays first-line center and sometimes isn't off the ice until 11:15 p.m. "I backcheck, baby," he says. "I play hard."
Esiason, 50, played 14 seasons in the NFL, and it's been 14 years since his last game. So the logical questions are: After a full day of work and a night of hockey, what hurts? Knees, ankles, shoulders, wrists, neck, back, head? All of the above?
"Nothing," he said last Friday in his WFAN studio chair, during a break in the show he does with prickly cohost Craig Carton. "Nothing hurts. I don't feel sore. It's amazing."
When Esiason, 15 pounds over his playing weight of 235, moves around the studio, he looks a decade younger. He doesn't limp, isn't slow, doesn't walk hunched over. He golfs twice a week in the summer. The only thing that bothers him, he says, is the occasional memory lapse. Sometimes he forgets whether he's eaten pasta or a turkey burger the night before.
"Is that because Bruce Smith hit me like a ton of bricks in the chin once and knocked me out?" Esiason says. "Is it because of how much I was hit in 14 years in the NFL? Is it because I didn't get enough sleep last night? Is it because I'm 50? Who knows?"
Yet in attending two of Esiason's radio shows over the past month, I saw no memory loss or other cognitive limitation as he kept up with Carton's breakneck pace. During a show last week Esiason said controversial Eagles wideout DeSean Jackson was creating a locker-room schism.
Carton broke in: "Spell schism."
"S-c-h-i-s-m," Esaison shot back.
Carton pressed the button to take a call. Anthony from Belleville asked about the long odds the Giants faced on Sunday against the unbeaten Packers. "You ever been in a game like that, Boomer?"
"Yeah, I was," Esiason said without hesitation. "It was called Super Bowl XXIII. Nobody gave us a chance. Actually, I was in a lot of these games. I played 14 years. About eight of those we had a shot. The rest of the time you held your breath and just hoped the receivers ran the right way."