Writer-Reporter Brooks Clark is a man who can appreciate the flip side, whether of Little Richard's Good Golly, Miss Molly—which is, of course, Hey Hey Hey Hey—or of life in general. It's a talent that should serve him well in his new assignment as the writer of College Football's Week (page 50), where he will be presenting the flip side of the scores.
In 1956 (the year Elvis recorded Hound Dog/Don't Be Cruel), Clark was born in Nashville, where his father, Bayard, was rector of St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church. Music was all around young Brooks; the Eddy Arnold and Chet Atkins families lived just blocks away. In 1960 the Clarks moved to Washington, D.C., where Brooks's father became a canon at the Washington Cathedral. In 1963, when Brooks was in the second grade, he wrote an essay on Moses that became a classic. "His interpretation mined a whole new vein—the Exodus viewed as a travelogue," says his mother, Charlotte, a painter and printmaker.
In his teens Clark was a determined, though not terribly distinguished, athlete. Later, at Dartmouth, the closest he got to football was rooming with high school classmate Nick Lowery, now the placekicker for the Kansas City Chiefs and the subject of a story Clark wrote for us two years ago. Clark was also editor in chief of Dartmouth's humor magazine, the Jack-O'-Lantern, thus following in the footsteps of Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. It was at about this time that Clark wrote a prize-winning story about the Washington Senators' last game, a piece that helped to land him a 1977 summer internship at SI.
In the spring of '78 he received word that the magazine wanted him on a full-time basis. "Actually, they called my mother while I was out shopping. She was under the impression that the job offer was like one of those radio station giveaways—if I didn't call back in five minutes, the job would be gone. So she had me paged in the shoe department at Sears."
Clark may have gotten his job at Sears, but he got his wife, Karen, at Brooks Brothers, where she is an assistant buyer. (Brooks's own brothers number four; he has one sister.) On their first date Brooks took Karen to a Jerry Lee Lewis concert, but then, he's always been a classy guy.
College football has been Brooks's specialty since he came to SI. "What I like about covering football is that the players aren't boring," he says, "or if they are, you just go on to the next one." His own football playing is now confined to the Great Lawn in Central Park, where he throws the ball just like Redskin idol Billy Kilmer, having ruined his arm trying to throw just like Redskin idol Sonny Jurgensen. Clark also writes touch-football verse; here are two of the more poignant lines from one entitled We Live and Die: "I go down and out to where/The trash cans mark our end zones."
Well, if you have played on the Great Lawn, you know what he means. We promise his Football's Week will be much easier to understand.