For a long time only the most illustrious athletes were called upon to write books—and then upon the conclusion of their careers. These gee-whiz memoirs were predictably bland and revealed nothing but a penchant for clich�. A new vogue, however, was created by Jim Brosnan, Jerry Kramer and, most recently, Jim Bouton, whereby athletes not only wrote a book while they were still active but even kept notes every day as their seasons went along.
These days everybody is writing accounts of their seasons—O. J. Simpson, Bill Freehan, Tom Seaver, Dave DeBusschere, Frank Beard, Len Dawson and Walt Frazier. A lot of the players have been so busy preparing their books they don't have enough time to play. It is such a serious problem, in fact, that it has now leaked out Coach Boots Zorro had to get tough about the whole business during the recent Lynchburg Memories training camp.
The Memories, favorite in the South-by-Southwest Division, had been working out at their Seaford, Del. summer training-camp site. "All right, men," the wily grid mentor told his stalwarts, "I want everybody in bed early tonight, because tomorrow is going to be a real tough day. In the morning, for you veterans, we're going to begin with keeping complete diary notes, and then advanced tape-recorder technique. Now, for you rookies, you'll be meeting as a group to learn how to sign with a literary agent, and then a session on methods for reading galley proofs on airplanes. And I don't want to hear nothing about how you learned to do it on your college team. You're with the Memories now, and you'll do it our way. All right, Greenleaf, what is it? Speak up."
The second-string free safety, John Greenleaf, rose. "It's nothing, Coach," he said. "I'm just dictating notes of this meeting into my tape recorder."
"Yeah, well knock it off," Coach Zorro barked back. "Stick to writing notes in longhand when I'm talking. You know that's a club rule. That'll cost you $100 or one-half of one percent of the paperback royalties, whatever is greater. We've got to have discipline around here. We've got a lot to work on to get you guys in shape. Madden, when I told you I wanted you to slim down to 280, I meant pounds, not pages. And by the way, Madden, if you must cut your book, not the chapter on inspiration. I thought that was beautiful. Did I really say all those things? Yes, Peletta, what is it?"
Brawny offensive tackle, Tiny Peletta stood up. "Coach, have you made a decision yet on that matter I asked you about?"
"Yes, I have, Harold," Coach Zorro replied. "I'm afraid that I just won't be able to let you take your editor with you to the line of scrimmage. I appreciate, as you put it so well, that the little fellow isn't much bigger than a comma, and he would be unlikely to get in the way. I have to be fair, and I think it's enough that everybody gets to sit next to their editor on the bench.
"Men, let me tell you, I think if we work together, we're the kind of team that has a chance to go all the way—and you know what that can mean. And if we can win the conference title, I don't see why every man here can't swing magazine rights for his stuff. If we can go all the way, in January we—"
"You really believe—" an excited Boom-Boom Starkle broke in.
"You bet I do. With the kind of talent we've got, I truly believe that we've got a Book-of-the-Month Club choice somewhere on this squad!" The Memories, fired up, rushed out with whoops and cheers.