Books by Pat Smith

Released: Nov. 3, 1997

Personal and often heartfelt reflections from Butkus on his love-hate relationship with the game of football. During the nine seasons (196573) he played middle linebacker for his hometown Chicago Bears, Butkus was one of the most feared, hated, and respected players in the NFL. He was one of the rare players whose very presence on the field changed forever the nature of his position. And in this frank and understated memoir, Butkus reveals how he came to play this way. By his own account, he was able to bottle up anger from Monday through Saturday and release it on the gridiron come Sunday. Naturally, this anger occasionally needed to be vented in other ways, all of which Butkus makes sound both logical and interesting: He liked to engage occasionally in boozy hi-jinks with friends and colleagues; he goaded the many sportswriters he mistrusted, especially Sports Illustrated's Dan Jenkins, who, he says, ``blindsided'' him in an article that labeled him ``A Special Kind of Brute with a Love of Violence''; he often bickered during salary negotiations with the Bears' autocratic owner and coach-for-life, George Halas. Despite pain and indignities suffered on and off the field, Butkus's enthusiasm for the game seldom waned. He notes the lasting impact of other players and coaches, among them his Bears teammate, Hall of Fame tailback Gayle Sayers; Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas (``the best quarterback of my time—maybe of all time''); and his one-time Bears defensive coach, George Allen. Butkus's obvious love of the game infuses with drama the chapters describing his decline as a player. Thankfully, he does not belabor us with too much detail about his post-football life and acting career, topics that he seems tacitly to acknowledge are more interesting to him than to his readers. A perceptive and occasionally humorous view from the trenches of a great era in pro football. (20 b&w photos, not seen) Read full book review >