RUFFIANS by Tim Green


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 Pro player Green, an Atlanta Falcons defensive stalwart, fades back to take a pass at writing a football novel and is sacked. All-American hunk and defensive lineman Clay Blackwell's got it all: a beautiful, sensitive, loyal college sweetheart and a six- million-dollar contract as befits the first-round draft choice of the hapless Birmingham Ruffians, a recent expansion franchise. Only the Ruffians aren't slated to be laughingstocks any longer. Ruthless owner Humphrey Lyles has hired equally ruthless new head coach Vance White, who believes in performance-enhancement drugs. At first good guy Clay won't go along--but becoming coach White's whipping boy, he caves in. Meanwhile, assistant coach Gavin Collins, token black on the staff, tries to buoy Clay's spirits when he's benched; and veteran Mad Max Dresden introduces Clay to pro football's perks--wild parties, cocaine, freebie trips, etc. A dream season ensues. An NFL first, the expansion Ruffians win game after game and are in the hunt for a Super Bowl berth. The Ruffians are lionized by the media and their fans. Clay is so overwhelmed that he barely feels the loss of his girlfriend. And if steroid use has caused Clay's hair to fall out and his back to be ravaged by acne, it seems a small price to pay. Then Max suffers a heart attack and dies, forcing Clay to rethink his priorities. He flees the team, reconciles with his girl, and decides to take the two million he's earned thus far and run. Except that Clay's agent, as slimy as Boss Lyle and Coach White, says that he'll forfeit all through breach of contract. No choice, back goes no-longer-humble Clay. The ensuing resolution is right out of Prince Valiant. Dime-novel characters, gloppy dialogue, and sex-by-the-numbers make for a drab outing--zero yards gained, zero points scored.

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 1993
ISBN: 1-878685-78-3
Page count: 298pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1993


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