DiBello’s debut memoir assures readers that his life is the stuff that movies are made of.
The preface invites readers to “Tailgate along as you enjoy the fact-filled amazing true-life story of this incredible man.” The author writes about learning how to gamble as a kid, his Army years, making a fortune, talking with future ABC Sports president Roone Arledge about the creation of Monday Night Football long before it happened, spending time with Johnny Cash, and how Frank Sinatra once accidentally took a swing at him. Overall, the author appears to have lived an incredible life, and he writes in an engaging, conversational voice. The trouble is that this book only gives readers an outline of that life and never truly immerses them in the individual stories. In one tale, for example, the author tells of John, a chameleonlike sidekick of his other friend, Bob, and how John “posed as something or other” to help them get a deal in purchasing rights to “old soap opera radio stories.” John was to “do ‘his thing’ to seal the deal”; the author then says, “He did, we did, Bob plunked down a tidy sum.” This is offered as an example of the kinds of adventures that the author and Bob would get into, but it’s never specific enough to allow readers to truly envision the scene. The same goes for a section titled “Hero or Villain? Judge,” in which DiBello writes about serving in a “special” Army company designated for “screw-up[s] of any kind.” In the author’s description, the company was fraught with bullies trying to shake down weaker men for money. He cites a “melee” that broke out when some soldiers were rolling dice in an area where people were supposed to be giving haircuts, as the “haircut concession” and the “gambling concession” fought for the space. There are no details about who was involved or the results of that fight, however—just acknowledgment that it happened. Shortly afterward, the author says that he eventually helped bring the company and its captain down, and he asks readers to judge whether he was right to do so, but the stories are so vague that it will be hard for readers to make such a judgment. In a footnote, DiBello offers money to anyone who can provide more details about the company—with possibly more rewards if this book is ever made into a movie.
An autobiography that feels like a teaser to garner interest in a film adaptation, but it never delivers the full picture.