Intervention Wrapped Up Before Kickoff

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Intervention Wrapped Up Before Kickoff

ST. LOUIS—Friends of 33-year-old Drew Sorenson characterized a Sunday alcohol-abuse intervention as a success, reporting that they'd maintained a supportive but firm tone throughout the talk, which they were able to wrap up in time to watch the 12 p.m. Rams-Falcons game.

Sorenson and friends watch the game.

"It was important that we establish certain things with Drew," said Chris Gowan, who first noticed that Sorenson's drinking had become a problem during Wild Card week last season. "We wanted him to know that we are his friends and we love him, but we won't stand by and watch him destroy his life. And we wanted to get all that said before kickoff, so we could relax and enjoy the game."

It was Gowan, Sorenson's friend since college, who persuaded the support group to meet at his apartment and confront Sorenson. Gowan acknowledged that it was difficult to draw people to his home, because the group usually meets at Sorenson's house to watch Rams games.

"We usually go to Drew's house, but Chris said it was a bad place to talk to Drew about his drinking, 'cause he could just kick everyone out if he got mad," Sorenson's brother-in-law Cory Pitts said. "Chris said we needed a non-threatening, familiar environment. So we all had to come to Chris' place, even though his television is about half the size of Drew's and he only has one couch."

Pitts picked Sorenson up early to ensure that he would be on time, and that he would have no chance to drink before the intervention.

"I suggested that maybe we should pick Drew up a little later, so he'd have enough time to make his onion dip, but Chris said we had to be strong," Pitts said. "At first, I argued, but then Chris pointed out that we didn't have any time to waste if we were going to confront Drew, give him time to open up to us, and work out a tenable plan for his recovery before the coin toss."

"So I bought some dip," Pitts added.

The element of surprise is an important part of a well-executed intervention, so Gowan was sure to have the whole group assembled when Sorenson arrived.

"We wanted everything to seem routine," said Hugh Baker, Sorenson's coworker and immediate supervisor. "We had our jerseys on, and everyone was just hanging out having a few and watching the ESPN pre-game. We got kinda edgy waiting for them to show up. We were like, 'We really don't want this talk hanging over our heads while we're watching the Rams kick ass."

As soon as he entered Gowan's apartment, Sorenson asked for a beer.

Rams player Jeff Wilkins kicks off, just moments after the intervention.

"I turned to Drew and said, 'Hey, man, we all want to talk to you about your drinking problem, so I'm going to turn the pre-game off here for a bit,'" Gowan said. "Drew was like, 'No way! What are you talking about?' It was hard, but I knew we had to do it—or at least turn off the sound."

With the sound muted on the pre-game coverage, Sorenson's friends and loved ones came forward one by one and said they believed drinking was ruining Sorenson's life and their relationships with him.

"We all took turns, trying our best to be firm, honest, and pretty quick about it," Gowan said. "And we were careful not to obstruct the screen."

There were reportedly a few tense moments during the intervention, such as when Baker threatened to fire Sorenson if he continued to drink on the job, and when Sorenson insisted the group's claims were "bullshit," adding that he was going to walk right into the kitchen and get a beer at the next commercial.

"At one point, Drew accused Chris of abusing painkillers and said I cheated in last year's Super Bowl pool," Baker said. "It got really tense. Everyone realized kickoff was only 25 minutes away and there was no resolution in sight."

Friends said they were relieved when, five minutes before kickoff, Sorenson's guard dropped, and he admitted that he'd tried but failed to stop drinking several times during the past year. He agreed to seek treatment.

"I have the greatest friends in the world," Sorenson said. "I guess it's tough love, saying things like that to a guy right before the big game against Atlanta and [quarterback] Michael Vick, but I really needed help. And I'm getting it, too—the guys made me call and sign up at this facility called the Lakeside Center immediately. Well, right after the game, I mean."