Right off the bat, I’m admitting to a major bias here.
Jeff Pearlman is one of my best friends in the entire world. He is kind, loyal, smart, funny and a million other traits that make a person one of those special people in your life.
He has been there for me on so many occasions, with personal and professional advice and counsel. He was the single biggest influence on my journalism career, calling in favors and helping me get my first big internship, and he’s helped in myriad ways since then.
He is one of the people in the world I could call at 3 a.m. from jail, and with no questions asked, he’d be there to bail me out (After posting bail, then he’d ask a ton of questions. He’s a journalist. It’s what we do).
I would do anything for Jeff and his family, and I know he’d do anything for me.
All that said, I cannot tell you in strong enough terms how I feel about his new book that came out Tuesday.
It’s about Walter Payton, maybe the greatest NFL running back ever, and it’s called “Sweetness.” You can get it at amazon.com here.
I am one of the four or five people who Jeff trusts to edit the first draft of his books, and when I started reading this one, I knew within two chapters that it was the best one he’s written (of four previous books, two have been N.Y. Times bestsellers, so he’s got a lot to live up to with each new book.)
Walter Payton is nearly universally worshipped as a hero, and for the most part, the Chicago Bears legend deserves the moniker. He was a fantastic player, a generous and kind friend, and at the end of his life, a spokesman for the rare disease from which he suffered.
But he was also human. And so he made mistakes. He abused painkillers. He cheated on his wife. He also had suicidal thoughts after his playing days were over.
All of that was documented in Sports Illustrated this week, which excerpted the book. And unfortunately, so many fans and (sadly) members of the press have taken a five-page excerpt and assumed an entire biography was filled with similar negative thoughts.
That could NOT be farther from the truth. This is a balanced, thoughtful, incredibly well-reported book, filled with details and insight never before known about the Bears great.
I strongly urge you to check the book out. If you know a football fan, are married to one, or are one yourself, please strongly consider buying this book.
Dan Wetzel of Yahoo.com, an outstanding sportswriter in his own right, gave the book a glowing review this week (crazy dude actually read the thing before reviewing it!)
If there’s someone I know who deserves success, or has worked harder on a project, more than Jeff, I don’t know who it would be.
**Been a while since I’ve written about my favorite insane politician, Rick Perry. Probably because the man is in such a free-fall that I’m not sure he’s really a contender for the White House anymore.
In case you wanted to see a snapshot list of ALL the ways Perry has screwed up in the last two months, Kevin Drum of motherjones.com has compiled this handy quick look.
All I can say is: Wow.
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