Revered NFL player Joe Namath was scheduled to deliver a sobering message to football fans on the morning of this year’s Super Bowl, sharing the toll the game has taken on him in a CBS interview Sunday.
“I’ve been through some things medically. I’ve seen some things on my brain,” Namath told Rita Braver of CBS Sunday Morning in a brief preview of the interview released in advance. “But I’ve had treatment, and I’ve improved. None of the body was designed to play football. Excuse me, you know, football, we’re just not designed for it.”
Namath, 70, played 13 seasons in the NFL after starring at the University of Alabama. He was drafted by the Jets in the 1965 AFL Draft with the No. 1 overall selection. Dubbed “Broadway Joe,” Namath quickly emerged as a star on and off the gridiron. In his fourth season, Namath piloted the Jets to an upset triumph over the Baltimore Colts in the third edition of the Super Bowl. Although his career would be plagued by injuries, he would be elected to the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in 1985.
With Super Bowl XLVIII being played in the home stadium of his former team, Namath has been one of many familiar faces in New York City ahead of the game between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks. Amid the celebratory clamor on both sides of the Hudson River, Namath has been making startling revelations about possible brain damage he has suffered.
“I was thinking I have grandchildren, I have daughters. It behooved me to find out what was going on,” Namath told CNN’s Piers Morgan in an interview that aired on Friday. “I didn’t have any symptoms to speak of but I did go get investigated, get looked at, get analyzed, took some treatment. Yes, there were areas in my brain that the cells had ceased, quieted down tremendously and we were concerned a bit. So I have had some treatment and I feel great.”
Namath told Morgan that he decided to have himself examined after hearing so much about the long-term health risks increasingly associated with football. During his visit with the CNN host, Namath recalled the cavalier response to in-game head injuries during his era.
“I can count the times that I had situations where I hit the ground, hit in the head, lose it, you don’t know for a while,” Namath said. “We used to call it ‘getting your bell rung.’ And then whenever you took some time, maybe a little oxygen, you went back to work.”