FATSO: How Football Was When Men Were Really Men by Arthur J. Jr. & Bob Drury Donovan

FATSO: How Football Was When Men Were Really Men

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A rambling, anecdotal memoir by the hefty former Baltimore Colt defensive lineman and football Hall of Famer. Donovan revels here in the blood and guts of a bygone American sporting era. He signed with Baltimore in 1950 for $4,500 and, after brief stints with the N.Y. (football) Yankees and Dallas Texans, returned to join a Colts team that in the early 50's was one of the league's worst. Then came new head coach Weeb Ewbank and a load of new talent that included fullback Alan ""the Horse"" Ameche and quarterback Johnny Unitas. By 1958 the Colts had become ""the best goddamn football team to ever play the game"" and NFL champs. Donovan's nostalgic thesis that the Colts' rugged, working-class heroes embodied football at its best, when ""the game was more important than the players,"" is supported by colorful portraits of teammates and locales and the writer's own self-effacing machismo. Also included are blunt assessments of football talent past and present. Former Giant Frank Gifford was overrated as a running back, says Donovan, and current Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon is an admirable heir to 50's flake, Detroit Quarterback Bobby Layne--""a legend in his spare time."" Donovan is also critical of the ""corporate entity"" that is today's NFL. He played 12 seasons before retiring in 1961, many without a face mask on his helmet, and feels the celebrity and lucre of the contemporary American sports scene has softened the game he played for love. Donovan, now a 340-pound talk-show guest, has assembled a bumpy, familiar tale of faded glory. Only rabid gridiron fans should dare this one.

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1987
Publisher: Morrow