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A Memoir

by Jason Peter with Tony O’Neill

Pub Date: July 8th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-312-37576-8
Publisher: St. Martin's

A former NFL player tells how he bottomed out with drugs.

There are many ways to go wrong in an addiction memoir, and Peter only notches two or three stylistic mistakes, such as dashing too quickly over specifics and occasionally falling into repetition—not a bad average for an entry in this overpublished, underedited genre. An East Coast kid who never really wanted to do much other than follow his brothers into football, Peter made it big early on, garnering a co-captaincy spot on the powerhouse Nebraska Cornhuskers. Although the Huskers gave Peter the opportunity to shine as a leader and prove his worth to the all-important NFL draft following graduation, the team’s doctor helped start him down another path by giving him painkillers. It would take a few years for Peter’s serious addiction to bloom, but he enjoyed the experience right from the start. And not just because it was an almost necessary block to the daily beating his body was taking, he admits: “All I knew was how much better life looked when you saw it through the haze of opiates.” After graduation, Peter was a first-round draft pick of the Carolina Panthers. But he was unable to enjoy the moment, as loneliness and growing addictions made it impossible to enjoy anything other than getting high. When a series of surgeries failed to resolve his injuries, Peter was out of the NFL forever. He had a raging drug problem, more money than he knew what to do with and a lot of free time to spend destroying himself. He did it all the usual ways—strippers and blow, lying to his family, going in and out of rehab—but the bruising way he describes them, aided by co-author O’Neill, is more harrowing than usual. Peter’s narrative relentlessly focuses on the brutalizing facts, and it is free from the macho posturing and self-congratulatory navel-gazing common in recovery memoirs.

Nightmarishly honest.