Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Canon Book Review: Boys Will be Boys

Right now, I am trying to type up this book review over my cat, who has decided to lay down right in front of my keyboard. This has nothing to do with the book, I just wanted to explain beforehand in case you catch some typos so you will know why. Anyway, since I recently bought a few books, I've decide to read and review some of them, and those will be coming up sporadically over the next few weeks. Up first is Jeff Pearlman's tome about the Dallas Cowboys dynasty of the 90s, Boys Will Be Boys: The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty.

First of all, this book is definitely not for kids to read, as the book starts with a player being stabbed with a pair of scissors and only escalates from there. Pearlman conducted interviews with 146 Cowboys players, coaches, and administrators, as well as members of the media that covered the team during this time. The result is a tale of a team that was immensely talented, who played hard and partied harder. The book also explores the love-hate relationship between owner Jerry Jones and coach Jimmy Johnson, as each man felt they were solely responsible for the Cowboys success, and their egos caused Johnson to be shockingly fired after the Cowboys second Super Bowl victory. Like another book of Pearlman's, "The Bad Guys Won", this is an expose of one of sport's most popular and well-known teams, a team that made headlines in the sports pages and the legal pages. A few notes about this book.

- One of the few players that come across as a normal person is Troy Aikman. In the book, Aikman is portrayed as a quiet man who would rather spend a night in than stay out all night, a player that came to detest the lack of discipline shown by Johnson's replacement, Barry Switzer, and a player who everybody interviewed for the book thought was as tough as a two dollar steak, a rare compliment for a quarterback. Even wide receiver Michael Irvin, a man seemingly with nothing in common with Aikman besides the same team, respected and loved Aikman more than any other teammate he ever had.
- Speaking of Irvin, although he garners a lot of respect for his play and work ethic, he seemed to be more respected for the ability to go out all night, smoke dope and get drunk with at least three women with him, and come back early in the morning as if nothing had happened. However, it was Irvin's run in with the law in 1996 that helped bring about the demise of the team. Well, that and Jerry Jones's lack of ability to draft decent players.
- After reading this book, if there was one player in professional sports of all time I would least like to be teammates with, it would be Charles Haley. While Haley was an incredibly talented pass rusher that was a key figure in Dallas' run, he also was insane. Haley, to put it politely, was a menace both to the opposition and to his own teammates, constantly ripping teammates because they were ugly or white or whatever reason he could find. One story involving Haley took place while he was with the 49ers. The 49ers acquired a player, Tim Harris, with skills similar to Haley's. Because Haley was paranoid that Harris was going to take his job, the two did not get along at all. It escalated one day when Haley cut a hole in the roof of Harris's BMW 733i convertible, stood on top of the car, and pissed on the steering wheel. That's a creative way of expressing your dislike of someone, I would say. To make things worse, Haley was a chronic self-pleasurer, often doing the deed in front of teammates during meetings or in the locker room, and sometimes talking about players' wives while doing so. There's more, but I have to leave some things out, don't I?
- As I stated earlier, a main theme of this book is the battle over glory between owner Jerry Jones and coach Jimmy Johnson, who first met as teammates at the University of Arkansas in the 1960s. When Jones first bought the team, he fired Cowboys icon Tom Landry and replaced him with Johnson, the then coach of college football's powerhouse, the University of Miami. In four short years, Dallas went from the bottom of the league to the top, but each man felt they were the reason for the success. Both men come of as flawed in the book, as Johnson, while a top-notch coach and draftnik, comes across as a callous man who played favorites and generally seemed to not give a damn about his players, while Jones is a man that, much like some of his players, possessed a huge ego and an affinity for the nightlife. Eventually, Johnson left/was fired and was replaced by Barry Switzer, who tended to let his team run amuck and seemed like a nice guy, but one that made questionable coaching decisions and, much like Jones and his players, never missed a chance to party.

There's more, a lot more, such as Kevin Smith talking so much trash that he got under the great Jerry Rice's skin to the point where Rice wanted to hurt Smith, to the tales of Larry Brown and Robert Jones, two quiet guys along for the ride who took grief for their strait-laced lifestyles, and Brown's tale of tragedy and ultimately, Super Bowl glory. Also, the egos of superstars Deion Sanders and Emmitt Smith are talked about, and both men seemed to think of themselves as players above the game. The bottom line is, this is a great book, and Pearlman did a ton of research in creating this story. So, whether you like the Cowboys or not (especially not), this is one of the most honest and revealing books about football that you will find on the market. I'll give it an 8.59 out of 10.

Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any ideas for future posts or feedback on past posts, than share them either by contacting me via e-mail at KtheC2001@gmail.com or by leaving a comment. I leave you with two world-class blunders by Leon Lett, a great player otherwise, but a man who will always be remembered to two colossal screwups.

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