Jeff Pearlman

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Gunslinger

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Brett Favre, the focus of Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre, has never had an exhaustively researched book done on his life. He also happens to be fascinating. And iconic. In other words: This wasn’t a hard one.

I’ve loved this entire project, because Favre isn’t your ordinary lunkhead, lacking the introspection and life nuggets to fill a 432-page book. Over the 2 ½ years I spent on Gunslinger, I devoted myself to combing through the backwoods of rural Mississippi, down Irvin Farve Lane (yes, it’s misspelled on the street sign) to his boyhood home. I tracked down the youth teammates and coaches, found the girls he liked and the opponents he hated. I placed myself (literally and figuratively) back in the Hancock North Central High gymnasium, and came to understand (if not question) why his father/high school coach limited Brett to four or five throws per game.

People see Brett Favre and generally think the following: Big arm. Packer. Daredevil. Played forever. Went to the Vikings and pissed people off. Made peace. But that’s simplistic nonsense. Favre’s time at Southern Miss is, simply, remarkable. He arrived as the recipient of the last remaining scholarship, was inserted against Tulane as a freshman by a desperate head coach, dazzled the masses (almost none of whom knew how to pronounce his name) and emerged as an 18-year-old hero. Favre’s four college seasons include shocking wins over Auburn and Alabama, eye-popping statistics, a car accident that nearly killed him.

His rookie season in Atlanta—a piece of forgotten history—is a biographer’s dream. Favre arrived with hopes of playing, then quickly partied himself into the doghouse. He spent the year fat and drunk, and Jerry Glanville, the head coach, begged the franchise to dump him. So he was traded to Green Bay, where an established starter named Don Majkowski held the position.

It was early in the 1992 season when Brett Favre became Brett Favre. When Majkowski went down against Cincinnati, the second-year quarterback stepped in and led Green Bay to a shocking last-minute win. Cliché be damned, a legend was born.

The 16 seasons in Green Bay are the stuff of legend. The one season in New York is the stuff of, well, embarrassment. The two seasons in Minnesota—Shakespearean.

Is this the best book I’ve written? I think so.

Was it the most riveting to work on? Absolutely.

Buy Gunslinger

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life