Hall of Fame quarterback and erstwhile cultural icon Namath (I Can't Wait Until Tomorrow...'Cause I Get Better Looking Every Day, 1970) looks back on a long life of football, fashion, and fun.
Tom Brady may always live with Deflategate hanging over his head, but such shenanigans were the coin of the realm when, half a century ago, Namath was a household word. During one game, he writes, he filed down five thumbtacks and taped them to his fingers to better grip the ball. It was ill-conceived: As he writes, “the ball stuck to the tacks just long enough so the release was too low,” and his passes went straight into the turf. “So the tacks didn’t work,” he adds, with characteristic amiability, “but hey, in the days before playing gloves, the idea was worth a try.” Both all-out star and team player, Namath has much to say on the inspirational front about trying, getting smacked down and dusting yourself off, and the usual sports stuff. He also discusses the N-word, divorce, booze, adultery, and other off-field violations of decor, taste, and ethics, and he has a very long memory for past injuries and insults as well as triumphs: “Oakland was real good, but certainly had some players who completely disregarded the rules of decent sportsmanship”; “This victory, the biggest upset in professional football championship history, was for all underdogs to be shared by all the underdogs.” Though he professes to hate writing, calling himself a “reluctant author” who’d much rather be outside playing, he’s got a handle on the storytelling racket. If it’s not especially literary, it’s good fun, with Burt Reynolds, Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley, and other assorted luminaries joining in. And if you want to know how his college coach, Bear Bryant, came by his nickname, Broadway Joe is the go-to guy.
A pleasure for fans who remember way back to Namath’s glory days—and an entertainment for those who are new to the gridiron hero.