Ric Flair called in Thursday to the Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz on ESPN.
“Ten days of life support. It’ll wake you up man. I just drank too much. The problem is when I started I the business in 1972, we drove three thousand miles a week, we drank beer, threw the cans out the windows, all that stuff. No cops. It was just a way of life. Then pretty soon, it was drinking beer, then getting to the hotel and drinking liquor.
“I never drank before I worked. Even when we did double shots, I wouldn’t even have a beer if I had to wrestle twice the same day in between matches. But after a couple hour broadways, which are hour-long matches, you can imagine what I tied myself onto after that. I just did it and it became a way of life. Never confuse the two, I never drank while I was working.”
What happened? Did you have an alcohol overdose or kidney failure?
“No, I just, I guess it would be like, if you’re ready for this, I’ve done all the math and figured it out with my accountant. Between 3,700 and 4,000 calories worth of booze, soda, splash of cranberry in my body every day in, like 20 drinks a day. I got sick.
“I’d eaten some raw oysters, I thought ‘I don’t feel right.’ (I went) to the hospital on the 11th, right? On the 11th of August and on the 14th I was on life support. I told my kids, everything had shut down. Kidney failure, congestive heart failure, renal failure, everything had shut down. The joke with the doctors was the only thing that was alive and kicking, sitting at the bar waiting for me was my liver. My liver was completely normal. He said ‘you’re a strange dude.’
“It’s an experience I wouldn’t want anybody to go through. You just go and you dream. You keep imagine things that are happening. It wasn’t like I was in a lot of pain. I don’t remember, if that makes sense, thank god. They tied me down and did the whole thing like Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. They had me tied down in the bed and I remember I said to one guy ‘Do you know who I am?’ He said ‘Yeah, you’re Mr. Ric.’ I said ‘I’ll give you five hundred bucks if you take off this restraint.” He said ‘You got it on you?’ (Laughs) I said ‘I can’t get to my pocket right now.’
I was tied down, guys, because I was trying to get out of there. I wanted out, I couldn’t take it. I (remember) a little bit.”
Do you not remember because you were drunk?
“No, this was five days later. That’s the problem. I didn’t get drunk. I might’ve gotten a little high. The thing I guess I hid behind the most… is that, you’ve seen movies where the guy’s got the little pint of liquor hidden in some place like his closet or his drawer or is carrying around a flask, you know. Where he just has to have it, you know? I never in my life have ever drank at home alone. Unless we’ve been socializing and had guests over, I’ve never sat at my house and drank alone. The social part, that was me.”
What was the scariest moment?
“When my daughters told me that the doctor said ‘Go in and say goodbye to your dad, he’s not going to make it.’ I wasn’t aware of that (at the time). It really brought me around.”
What do you remember about the ten days in the coma?
“I remember I couldn’t talk, but I could hear people talking around me, which is even scarier. ‘He might not make this,’ you know. It’s like when the heart doctor told me the other day, I was conscious long enough for them to ask me, they had to have my permission to put the pacemaker on me and I said ‘yeah, go ahead,’ and he said before I had a chance to open my mouth again, I was on my way to getting the pacemaker.”
Do you remember what you were thinking?
“Yeah, I was scared. I’ve kinda blocked that out now. First of all, having a colostomy bag is a little unusual, something I didn’t foresee myself having. Which I’ll have for six months before they change it around, and if it hurts as bad as it did the first time, I may just keep it.”
How is your lifestyle right now? It sounds like you’ve got a little misery ahead in terms of daily stuff.
“No, I actually just left the rehab facility. I’ve been there working on my motor skills and all that. I can do anything; obviously I couldn’t play sports right now. I feel great, my attitude is great. I’m thankful for the people that put up with my bulls**t over there, because I was hard to get along with. When you’re sitting there, you’re pushing a button to get someone to help you. You can’t go to the bathroom; you need someone to walk with you. So I’m lucky I had a very nice, congenial crew to work with that liked me as well, so I’m just thankful for a lot of things right now.”
You’ve said you will never drink again. Can you be Ric Flair and not be drinking and be the life of the party?
“Yes. I can tell you something that’s the god’s honest truth. When I was in rehab one time before, they thought I needed a refresher course. When I was there, I started smoking cigarettes. Nicotine is the hardest thing in the world to quit, I swear to god. I had a harder time getting off those damn cigarettes.
“I just won’t put myself in the position. I won’t be sitting in a bar drinking Diet Coke, that’s no fun. So I’ll just have to learn how to occupy myself, you know. It’s like when I drive my boat, I’ve got a really fast speedboat, I don’t drink when I’m driving my boat. I don’t even keep beer on it because I don’t want to have any problems with the police. I’ve got them small little stepchildren, and I don’t want anything to happen to them.”
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