Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Book Review: Never Give Up on Your Dream

There's a reason that there are very few autobiographies currently listed under the "Football Books" item on the sidebar. Those reasons can be amply found in the first two-thirds or so of Never Give Up on Your Dream, Warren Moon's autobiography written with Don Yaeger (who also appears on the sidebar for Tarnished Heisman). That first two-thirds or so is mostly a mundane repetition of some of the key moments from Warren's life from birth to Hall of Fame induction. Not to put too fine a point on things, you or I could've, with work, written virtually all of the content; either Warren has a preternatural memory for such things, or his early life revolved around pop culture items, or he told the bare-bones outline of his childhood and somebody fleshed it out with knowledge of what was popular back then ("Hmm, Warren was born in 1956, what would've been popular for a 7 year old in 1963?"). A hint to the likely answer to this question comes from the acknowledgments at the back of the book: "key members of our writing and research team also included the amazingly disciplined Jim Henry, who kept this train on the tracks, and the gifted Tiffany Yecke Brooks, whose ability to turn a phrase is uncanny for her age." I hope you enjoyed your graduate work in English, Tiffany; read this if you haven't already.

Thankfully, the last third or so of the book actually has content that shows the active cooperation of Warren Moon in its content. There's some insight into him as a person and what he likes. There's one chapter that ended up quite timely, about his work with the Sport Concussion Institute. Another chapter tells his side of the story about his argument with his then-wife Felicia from 1995, when he was arrested on domestic violence charges (that he didn't do anything was my reading of the contemporary news reports, and of course that's the story he tells, reasonably convincingly). He also wrote about his drunk driving arrests in 2007 and worrying he was turning into an alcoholic like his father, before determining that he wasn't but counseling was useful for avoiding doing stupid things. This chapter is slightly ironic, given that Moon's lifelong agent, Leah Steinberg, who's heavily present throughout the book, nearly drank his way out of the agent profession, but it is at least mildly interesting to see him talking about counseling and how it's not part of the normal image for black men, and particularly black athletes.

But, really, this isn't particularly interesting or insightful of a book. I only read it because I was an Oilers and Moon fan growing up and the local library happened to have it. The current Amazon price of $9.75 is much more attractive than the $25 list, but I'd've waited three years until it was available for a penny plus shipping and wouldn't have felt like I'd missed anything. Not particularly recommended.

4 comments:

Jon said...

Is More Than A Game on your reading list? Billick shows an awareness of what is going on in the football blogosphere.

Tom said...

Jon,
I actually finished More Than a Game a couple months ago and haven't done a review on it yet. It's been so long I feel like I need to re-skim it to actually do it justice.

Anonymous said...

First things first: Don Yaeger spells his name a before e. Yeager was a test pilot. Yaeger is an author. Jim Henry worked to provide many of the early chapters in the book...but you don't seem to want to pick on him. Do you prefer to pick on girls that used to be in graduate school? I guess that is what guys like you do when they done typing names from the acknowledgments section into a search engine. The later chapters that you found most interesting were those that Tiffany Yecke Brooks drafted as the primary writer/researcher. She has also worked on several other books for Yaeger: Turning the Tide (the integration of Alabama Football), Tarnished Heisman (Reggie Bush), Running for My Life (Warrick Dunn), It is not about the Truth Anymore (The Duke Lacrosse case), The Senior (Mike Flynt), and several others. Maybe your dream job is to just be a critic. (You are a self-described prolific reader, but I have a hard time accepting that based on your top ten list) I think Tiffany has a job that lots of sports fans dream of: she interviews professional athletes from many walks of life, coaches from all eras (Tony Dungy, Bobby Bowden, John Wooden) and tells another part of their story. She is good at what she does because she does not get star struck. She is a meticulous researcher who cares about telling a story well. She has endeared herself to some of the most hard-to-impress personalities in sports.
If you ever want to discuss her work or career choices in person--please drop me a line. I would be very happy to give you my full attention on my next trip to Chicago.

Semper Fi,

Major Aaron J Brooks, USMC
Commanding Officer
Marine Aviation Training Support Squadron One
330 Fletcher Road
NAS Meridian MS 39309

Tom said...

Thanks for the correction on Mr. Yaegar's name-I foolishly copied it off the Amazon listing of the authors, where it shows up as "Yeagar," rather than off the book's cover or the title page, where it shows up under the correct spelling.

My comment in regard to Ms. Yecke Brooks was intended more as a side commentary upon the state of book publishing and academia, and certainly not as a slur upon her or her work, which she assuredly does far better than I would do her job. She's also assuredly far better read than I in the traditional English canon, and I have never asserted otherwise.

Thank you for your comment, and your service.