So Jake Plummer has retired. I'm sorry to see that -- he was a guy I always wanted to see succeed, someone who seemed generally decent (aside from the facial hair) who just really, really should have chosen a career other than football.
#8 - "Out of Their League" by Dave Meggyesy
Not sure how I went through so much of my life without hearing of Meggyesy -- a 1960s NFL linebacker who became thoroughly radicalized, quit the game in his prime, and wrote a pretty detailed book listing the sport's sins. I stumbled across a reference a few months back (and I wish, now, I remembered where), became interested, and got this book. Any pro athlete who publicly ripped Nixon at the height of his presidency (the book originally came out in 1970) is of some interest, especially in today's context.
"Out of Their League" is an interesting, multi-layered book that perhaps could have used an editor -- it jumps around a lot, subject to subject. I'll grant that some of it seems dated, which is hardly the author's fault. In 1970, exposing the corruption of college sports was still pretty radical. In 2006, much of it seems quaint.
Where the book really gains steam is when Meggyesy hits the pros, with the St. Louis Cardinals. His description of his political awakening and increased involvement is fascinating (and heartening) -- side-by-side with his career in a league that tried to beat down individuality.
I've been trying to think of any North American athlete who's been involved with any sort of activism, however limited, in recent years -- Carlos Delgado? Steve Nash? Today's sports talk radio/idiot loudmouth culture isn't very forgiving of such activities (John Smoltz or Curt Schilling are just fine, though). That alone makes Meggyesy's book a good read for sports fans (ok, at least those of my political stripe. I doubt I'll be giving this to Dad for Christmas).
And the image of a hyper-intense NFL linebacker mellowing out with hash and acid is pretty awesome, you've gotta admit.
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Rare music bit: I've been listening to pretty much nothing but Jesu's "Conqueror" album for the past week or so. For those into such things, it's streaming here. (Though it seems to be down for the moment.)