BRINGING THE HEAT

A PRO FOOTBALL TEAM'S QUEST FOR GLORY, FAME, IMMORTALITY, AND A BIGGER PIECE OF THE ACTION

An ambitious, remarkably frank, but overlong and digressive chronicle of the Philadelphia Eagles' 1992 season by a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter. Bowden begins and ends in the middle of the Eagles' dramatic come-from-behind playoff victory over New Orleans in January 1993. In between are 400 pages of reconstruction of behind-the-scenes goings-on, as well as highly personal profiles of the players, coaches, and owner Norman Braman. Just prior to the start of the football season, All-Pro defensive lineman Jerome Brown was killed in an auto accident. The talented, irrepressible Brown was mouthy and loud, often flabby from poor workout habits, and apparently determined to set an NFL record for paternity suits and speeding tickets. His locker became a shrine, and his loss helped bring to light the team's barely concealed divisions and animosities. Linebacker Seth Joyner became openly insulting to ``franchise quarterback'' Randall (Randoll, Joyner called him) Cunningham, accusing him publicly of consistently letting the team down in the clutch. Joyner and the rest of the defense were ``Buddy's Boys,'' hard-nosed athletes assembled by fiery, controversial Buddy Ryan, axed the previous year and replaced as head coach by the team's relatively inexperienced offensive coordinator, Rich Kotite—soon dubbed Coach Uptight by the press. As the season progressed and the team disintegrated, Bowden reenacts a wild fight in the stands between defensive back Wes Hopkins's wife and mistress and other fairly irrelevant outbursts. His recounting of the more pertinent football controversies, such as the debate over whether Cunningham or Jim McMahon should be quarterback, demonstrate the depth of the venomous feelings within the team. By midseason, even the press was urging the players to ``shut up and play football.'' Bowden's writing has an it's-all-so-amusing edge. As incident- laden and wacky as the season was, he's too long-winded to sustain interest. (16 pages photos, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 1994

ISBN: 0-679-42841-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1994

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

BACK FROM THE DEAD

A basketball legend reflects on his life in the game and a life lived in the “nightmare of endlessly repetitive and constant pain, agony, and guilt.”

Walton (Nothing but Net, 1994, etc.) begins this memoir on the floor—literally: “I have been living on the floor for most of the last two and a half years, unable to move.” In 2008, he suffered a catastrophic spinal collapse. “My spine will no longer hold me,” he writes. Thirty-seven orthopedic injuries, stemming from the fact that he had malformed feet, led to an endless string of stress fractures. As he notes, Walton is “the most injured athlete in the history of sports.” Over the years, he had ground his lower extremities “down to dust.” Walton’s memoir is two interwoven stories. The first is about his lifelong love of basketball, the second, his lifelong battle with injuries and pain. He had his first operation when he was 14, for a knee hurt in a basketball game. As he chronicles his distinguished career in the game, from high school to college to the NBA, he punctuates that story with a parallel one that chronicles at each juncture the injuries he suffered and overcame until he could no longer play, eventually turning to a successful broadcasting career (which helped his stuttering problem). Thanks to successful experimental spinal fusion surgery, he’s now pain-free. And then there’s the music he loves, especially the Grateful Dead’s; it accompanies both stories like a soundtrack playing off in the distance. Walton tends to get long-winded at times, but that won’t be news to anyone who watches his broadcasts, and those who have been afflicted with lifelong injuries will find the book uplifting and inspirational. Basketball fans will relish Walton’s acumen and insights into the game as well as his stories about players, coaches (especially John Wooden), and games, all told in Walton’s fervent, witty style.

One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1686-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Effectively sobering. Suffice it to say that Pop Warner parents will want to armor their kids from head to toe upon reading...

CONCUSSION

A maddening, well-constructed tale of medical discovery and corporate coverup, set in morgues, laboratories, courtrooms, and football fields.

Nigeria-born Bennet Omalu is perhaps an unlikely hero, a medical doctor board-certified in four areas of pathology, “anatomic, clinical, forensic, and neuropathology,” and a well-rounded specialist in death. When his boss, celebrity examiner Cyril Wecht (“in the autopsy business, Wecht was a rock star”), got into trouble for various specimens of publicity-hound overreach, Omalu was there to offer patient, stoical support. The student did not surpass the teacher in flashiness, but Omalu was a rock star all his own in studying the brain to determine a cause of death. Laskas’ (Creative Writing/Univ. of Pittsburgh; Hidden America, 2012, etc.) main topic is the horrific injuries wrought to the brains and bodies of football players on the field. Omalu’s study of the unfortunate brain of Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster, who died in 2002 at 50 of a supposed heart attack, brought new attention to the trauma of concussion. Laskas trades in sportwriter-ese, all staccato delivery full of tough guyisms and sports clichés: “He had played for fifteen seasons, a warrior’s warrior; he played in more games—two hundred twenty—than any other player in Steelers history. Undersized, tough, a big, burly white guy—a Pittsburgh kind of guy—the heart of the best team in history.” A little of that goes a long way, but Laskas, a Pittsburgher who first wrote of Omalu and his studies in a story in GQ, does sturdy work in keeping up with a grim story that the NFL most definitely did not want to see aired—not in Omalu’s professional publications in medical journals, nor, reportedly, on the big screen in the Will Smith vehicle based on this book.

Effectively sobering. Suffice it to say that Pop Warner parents will want to armor their kids from head to toe upon reading it.

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8757-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more