I NEVER PLAYED THE GAME by Howard with Peter Bonventre Cosell
Kirkus Star


Email this review


More portentous, self-conscious, and sanctimonious effusions from the voluble sportscaster whose stock in trade is grandiloquence.""I am writing this book because I am convinced that sports are out of whack in the American society,"" Cosell states in his prologue. Perhaps so, and let's hear more. In the twilight of a remarkable 32-year career, however, he chooses instead to even a lot of scores. A favorite target: the so-called ""jockocracy"" of former athletes who now dominate the airwaves. In his less-than-humble opinion, they are little more than inept shills for the games they cover. (Cosell is at some pains to point out that the title of his apologia has several levels of meaning, e.g., that he was never a professional athlete and that he refused to play ball with either advertisers or club owners.) Singled out for particularly harsh words are sometime Monday Night Football colleagues--Frank Gifford, Don Meredith, O.J. Simpson, Fran Tarkenton, et al. Also on his hit list are the likes of Arthur Ashe, Larry Holmes, Shirley Povich, and Pete Rozelle. Many of Cosell's causes--notably, vagrant franchises, apartheid, and boxing mismatches made to meet TV commitments--are worthy. Unfortunately, he lavishes as much if not more attention on purely personal injuries. A whole chapter, for example, is devoted to a replay of his feud with the print media over an off-the-cuff reference to Alvin Garrett (a diminutive black receiver for the Redskins) as ""that little monkey. . ."" Cosell cain, though, shift gears as smoothly off the air as on. He has high praise for ""a truly forthright columnist"" (David Kindred of The Washington Post, who supports his repudiation of prizefighting), virtually all the ABC network brass (save ""Machiavellian"" Roone Arledge), Sugar Ray Leonard (a Cosell find at the 1976 Olympics), and Bowie Kuhn (whom ""most sports-writers never really took the time to get to know""). In the main, however, Howard whales away at anti-Cosell forces, leaving the distinct impression he's a spoilsport who protests all too much. Ponderous ponderosity from one who could have done much better.

Pub Date: Oct. 21st, 1985
Publisher: Morrow