Joe Namath was married once, to Deborah ‘Tatiana’ Mays between 1984 and 2000. The couple had two daughters together, Olivia and Jessica. They met while Namath was trying to forge a second career as an actor, despite their 19-year age difference, they were still married. Their marriage was unfortunately dominated by Namath’s alcoholism. The New York Jets’ legend went through various phases of being sober but would ultimately relapse around the time of their divorce. The couple began proceedings in 1999.
Prior to his marriage, Namath’s womanizing was nearly as famous as achievements on the football field. When he finally settled down, Namath was quoted as saying that Mays had “caught his last pass.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. After Leaving Namath, Mays Began Dating Penile Surgeon Brian Novack, Leaving Her Daughters With Namath
In 1999, Mays was revealed to have been having an affair with penile plastic surgeon Brian Novack, according to multiple tabloid reports at the time. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported at the time that it was Namath who filed for divorce in Broward County, and requested to be the full-time caretaker of the couple’s two daughters. At the time of the filing, Namath said the couple had been living apart since September 1998.
The Sentinel report says that Mays left the children with Namath and she visited them “occasionally.” Speaking to the National Enquirer at the time, Mays said, “We have two beautiful daughters, but finally I had to tell Joe the marriage wasn’t working for me. I was bored. I’m in love with Brian. He’s different from Joe. He’s very sensitive.” Mays also told People Magazine that she thought Namath would be “proud” of her for taking the decision to leave him because it would help her “reach [her] potential.” The article mentioned that Mays aspired to be a playwright.
In January 2014, the Daily Telegraph reported that a British socialite, Sandra D’Auriol, took her own life shortly after undergoing plastic surgery with Novack. That article referred to Mays as being “one-time” partner of Novack’s. Mays is quoted in the article as saying, “Brian is more of an artist that surgeon. He’s very sensitive.” A property listing from 2008 indicates that Mays married Novack but the couple were divorced some time later.
2. Deborah Changed Her Name to Tatiana After Her Namesake Cousin Was Killed
An April 1999 People Magazine feature on Namath’s divorce said that Mays had changed her first name from Deborah to Tatiana after her “namesake cousin was killed.” Although a 2004 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette feature said that Mays “changed her name to Tatiana because she didn’t like people calling her Debbie. She also struggled being known as Mrs. Joe Namath. She wanted her own identity.”
In the book, “Namath: A Biography,” writer Mark Kriegel said that Mays changed her name twice, first in 1992 to “May Namath.” Then, again, in 1993 to “May Tatiana Namath.” Although, she wanted to be known as “Tatiana.”
3. Deborah Helped Namath Get Sober in 1987
A 2015 ESPN feature on Namath namechecked Mays as having a key role in helping him get sober in 1987. Namath said Mays gave him an ultimatum saying, “My wife told me if I didn’t stop drinking, it would break up my family. So I quit.” Although Namath would suffer relapses around the time of his divorce in 2003 and infamously in 2003 during Monday Night Football.
4. Namath Paid for Mays to Stage a Chekhov Play in the Manhattan in the 1990s
Despite meeting Joe at a voice class, Mays has one solitary acting credit on her IMDb page, a 1983 part in the show, “The Greatest American Hero.” A passage in “Namath: A Biography,” says that during her marriage to the former New York Jet, Namath paid for her to rent out a theater in Manhattan for her to put on a Chekhov play for four nights. The family traveled from Florida for the role and May’s father, Bud, built much of the set. Namath even appeared in the play. One person was quoted as saying, “I felt [Namath] could give a s*** how the lay was going as long as she was happy.”
Actress Katherine Kerr, who also appeared in the show, said, “It was painful to Tatiana that she wasn’t as good as Joe. Joe got the attention. Joe got the affirmation. I almost think she was jealous. She wasn’t expecting him to be that good; I don’t think anybody was.”
5. The Couple’s Teenaged Daughter, Olivia, Gave Birth to Her First Child in 2007
In August 2007, Olivia Namath gave birth to a girl, Natalia, in West Palm Beach, when she was 16 years old. People Magazine reported at the time that Natalia was living with Mays in California for an unspecified reason. At the time, Olivia was still attending high school in Florida. Namath told the Palm Beach Post at the time of the child’s birth, “There are some things that are wonderful, and this is one of them. I’m just happy that everyone’s healthy.” In 2010, Olivia was arrested on underage drinking and marijuana possession charges.
The couple’s other daughter, Jessica, is a graduate of her father’s alma-mater, the University of Alabama.
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