When the first chapter of a non-fiction football book starts off with future Hall Of Fame receiver Michael Irvin stabbing a teammate in the neck with a scissors... and blood is shooting all over the room... and the intensity of the lurid details... on and off the field... regarding the famed "dynastic" Dallas Cowboys of the 1990's... never lets up for the next three-hundred-fifty-eight pages... you know you've got a great book in your hands. Any true football fan, regardless of what team you root for will want to read this book. There are so many riveting... outlandish... insider... stories... that you will constantly want to stop reading for a moment or two... just to call one of your buddies to tell him what you just read!
This book has it all. From the "humble" beginnings (as far as wins and losses that is... nothing about any of the key individuals in this story could ever be considered humble!) concerning the 1989 Cowboys who had a one-win fifteen-loss season... to the three-time Super Bowl Champions. The author smoothly gives you detailed background information on everyone from owner Jerry Jones to coach Jimmy Johnson to Troy Aikman/Emmitt Smith/Michael Irvin/Nate Newton/Charles Haley/Deion Sanders... and every Cowboy large... small... or in between... who effected the team on or off the field... good or bad. Absolutely no punches are pulled.
From drug busts, that included Michael Irvin and teammate Alfredo Roberts being caught with 10.3 grams of cocaine, more than an ounce of marijuana, assorted drug paraphernalia and sex toys... and oh yea... two strippers... to shocking exposes regarding eventual FIVE-TIME-SUPER-BOWL-CHAMPION Charles Haley who would expose himself... and "pleasure-himself"... in front of teammates in the locker room... training room... and meeting rooms... to famous quotes from players, that truly thought they were above the law, are provided... such as when three-hundred-sixty pound Nate Newton said: "WE'VE GOT A LITTLE PLACE OVER HERE WHERE WE'RE RUNNING SOME WHORES IN AND OUT, TRYING TO BE RESPONSIBLE, AND WE'RE CRITICIZED FOR THAT, TOO."
Did you know that when former Cowboy owner Bum Bright sold the team to Jerry Jones... that one of the conditions of the sale was that Jones had to fire Tom Landry? Landry was probably the most popular man in Texas, but Bright couldn't stand him. How did the Cowboys code of ethics compare to other big name NFL teams? One Cowboy said: "WHEN I WAS WITH THE REDSKINS COACH GIBBS WOULD SAY, "OK FELLA'S, DON'T MESS WITH STREET DRUGS OR STEROIDS, BECAUSE THAT'S NOT HOW WE DO THINGS HERE." COACH JOHNSON ON THE OTHER HAND, WOULD SAY, "DON'T MESS WITH STREET DRUGS OR STEROIDS, BECAUSE THE DRUG TEST IS IN A WEEK AND YOU DON'T WANNA GET CAUGHT." "IT WAS OBVIOUS JIMMY LACKED SOME CHARACTER IN HIS PURSUIT OF GREATNESS."
It's all here in exquisite detail. Nothing is held back. The way players... coaches... and owners... really feel! Who they think is stupid... who is smart... who had courage and who didn't. One Cowboy whose valor won over his team was Troy Aikman, of whom linebacker Garry Cobb said: AS A ROOKIE AGAINST THE CARDINALS AIKMAN "WAS KNOCKED COLD FOR NEARLY FIVE MINUTES BEFORE BEING HELPED OFF THE FIELD. TROY EARNED ALL OUR RESPECT. HE GOT KILLED AND REFUSED TO CRY. I'VE BEEN ON THE FIELD WHEN QUARTERBACKS CRY, AND IT AIN'T PRETTY. DAN MARINO WAS A CRIER - "WHOSE MAN WAS THAT! WHERE'S THE BLOCKING! WHAH!" "BUT AIKMAN - NEVER. AIKMAN WAS A MAN."
The author, Jeff Pearlman, magically, and seamlessly, weaves a story that gives you equal servings of statistical game information... unwavering disections of diverse psychological profiles... including Jerry Jones's jealousies and Jimmy Johnson's insecurities... and the sensitive human backdrop's... such as Michael Irvin... the third youngest of SEVENTEEN CHILDREN... who never had his own bed until college.
I recommend this book highly to any football fan.