- All the Way: My Life in Four Quarters by Joe Namath, Sean Mortimer and Don Yeager
"When I came to Alabama, Coach Bear Bryant had all the freshmen in for a first meeting where he said, 'You'll remember the losses quicker than the wins. We're going to win a lot of games, but the losses will stick in y'all's craws,'" Joe Namath recalls at one point in All the Way: My Life in Four Quarters (217). Coach Bryant's sage advice has resonated throughout the Hall of Fame quarterback's life.
Have you ever wanted to have a conversation with Joe Namath? If you answered yes, this book is for you. The narrative is set around Namath watching the television broadcast of Super Bowl III, fifty years after he led the New York Jets to a victory over the Baltimore Colts at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida, on January 12, 1969. As he comments on the game he flashes back to memories of his life. Rather than a chronological retelling of his life from the cradle to present day, he analyzes the "four quarters" of the game in the Orange Bowl and intersperses memories of the rest of his unique life experiences. An analog would be watching a game on television. When the commercials come on you switch topics then refocus on the game when the advertisements end. The four quarters of Namath's life include his childhood, playing at Alabama, professional football, and life after retirement from the National Football League.
Namath watches Super Bowl III with the sound down, only rarely rewinding and turning up the volume to hear the announcers explain what happened. He scrutinizes the action like a quarterback during a film study session, analyzing critical situations and revealing strategies. He critiques, many times harshly, his own play while praising his teammates and opponents. He is witnessing many of the plays for the first time, commenting that the sideline is the worst place to watch a football game. Namath points out that players remember games very differently than do fans. Players are trained to forget the last play and concentrate on the next one. What seems important to fans and the media many times is forgotten by the athletes in the arena. What is [End Page 93] important to Namath in the game of football, and the game of life, is that he came out on top.
In Super Bowl III Namath's Jets were rightfully the underdog. The upstart American Football League had lost the first two Super Bowl games without putting up much of a challenge. They were playing the Baltimore Colts, the best team in the established National Football League. His famous line, "I guarantee it!" had been shouted prior to the game in frustrated response to a reporter's questioning whether Namath really thought the Jets could win against such steep odds. Players don't make guarantees about games and coaches sure don't like supplying motivation to the opponent. In this case winning solved all concerns and gave him a catch phrase that has served him well for over fifty years.
It is hard to think of Namath as an underdog. The media hype accents his big smile and good looks. However, he has always been motivated by hardship and even failures. Namath does not shy away from writing about his failures, which Coach Bryant warned would "stick in his craw." He admits when he was wrong and accepts the consequences of his actions. Failures and injustices stick with him, but he lets us know when he was mistreated—and he lets us know the difference between failures and mistreatment.
Among the issues he discusses are alcohol abuse, being suspended by Coach Bryant, and his relationships with women. Times where he was targeted, and he knew he was in the right, stand out in the book. He prominently recounts when he was slapped by a nun and another...