Today, NFL playboys are a dime a dozen — extravagant cars, new women, and plenty of alcohol to boot. But the playboy legends of old took partying to a whole different level. Joe Namath and Paul Hornung were both known for their dominant play on the field. But their antics off the football field raised a few eyebrows. So who was the bigger partier?
Joe Namath’s NFL career
Joe Namath is easily one of the most recognizable NFL stars ever. Playing for Bear Bryant, he led the Crimson Tide to the 1964 national championship before joining the New York Jets. One of the high points of Broadway Joe’s career came in 1969, shortly before the AFL/NFL merger. His underdog Jets took on the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.
Not one to shy away from controversy, Namath predicted the win ahead of time, reports Fan Buzz. The QB said, “We’re going to win the game. I guarantee it.” He was right, the Jets topped the Colts 16-7. While on the field, it looked like Namath had everything in control, off the field was a different story.
According to Larry Brown Sports, his party lifestyle was well known. But his excessive drinking would’ve killed him if not for one cringe-inducing interview. In a 2003 interview with ESPN reporter Suzy Kolber, Namath was very drunk. He slurred his words and told Kolber he’d like to kiss her. According to his book, All the Way, My Life in Four Quarters, Namath saw the interview as a turning point:
“A blessing in disguise. I had embarrassed my friends and family and could not escape that feeling. I haven’t had a drink since … That shame is where I found my strength to deal with the addiction. With the help of my recovery, I learned that I had used my divorce as an excuse to go back to drinking. That knowledge made me a stronger individual.”
Paul Hornung’s esteemed career
Coming out of Notre Dame, Hornung became a Hall of Fame running back for the Green Bay Packers. A dominant part of Vince Lombardi’s offense, Horning was a four-time NFL Champion (1961-1962, 1965-1966). Even with all his success on the field, his antics and partying ways didn’t stop just to play football.
Drunkard reports that before a big game with the Baltimore Colts in 1965, Horning met up with a friend and some girls the night before. Not expecting to play the next day because of an injury, the group stayed out all night and didn’t get in until Sunday morning. Well, Lombardi suited him up, and he had one of the most dominant games of his career, five touchdowns all while winning the Western Division title.
Alcohol and football seemed to go hand in hand with Horning, he’s reported to have anywhere from 30-60 drinks a night and never go to bed before four in the morning.
The biggest partier award
While Hornung could certainly party and drink his fair share of liquor, Namath is more well-known for his off the field antics. Between his embarrassing interview with Suzy Kolber, a tell-all book revealing his college sexual conquests, and a recent gambling controversy, Namath’s partying ways always seem to catch up to him.
While he’ll certainly be remembered as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, Broadway Joe will also be known for his drinking, womanizing, and gambling woes. Never one to shy away from the limelight, his prediction about Super Bowl III will always be one of his most enduring legacies.