Jeff Pearlman

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Charles Haley

So I received an e-mail yesterday afternoon from Drew Magary, editor of the excellent football/humor site, Kissing Suzy Kolber (named after this classic NFL moment). He asked if he could post some Charles Haley-related scenes from my upcoming book, “Boys Will Be Boys,” on his site for Monday.

After checking in with my publisher (unavailable on the weekend—understandably so), I agreed.

Drew’s good people, and I’m thankful for any sort of pre-release attention/support. However, I also worry about about the perception that can follow a reading of the ninth chapter of the book, aka: THE LAST NAKED WARRIOR. I really tried to make this a sports biography that merges the intricacies of a dominant football team with the oddities of its unique collection of characters. A lot of the Cowboys have amazingly compelling stories—Robert Jones, the linebacker whose mother was murdered by his father; Darren Woodson, the All-Pro safety who was guided righteously by a strict, loving single mother; Emmitt Smith, who made a rookie list of career goals that included ALL-TIME RUSHING LEADER and NFL HALL OF FAME. So on and so on. And yet Haley, well, Haley was a one-of-a-kind nutjob. The chapter title, THE LAST NAKED WARRIOR, comes from one of Haley’s first days with the team, when he roamed around the locker room butt naked, save for athletic tape wrapped around his penis, screaming, “I’M THE LAST NAKED WARRIOR! I’M THE LAST NAKED WARRIOR!”

That was only the tip of the iceberg for a superstar defensive end who couldn’t control his impulses; who felt the need to humiliate anyone, any place, any time, any moment; who was all but run out of San Francisco by a collection of teammates and coaches who tired of his behavior.

Guys like Haley can help make a book. But he’s not the entire book. Just a one-of-a-kind character …

Hmm … not quite sure what point I’m trying to make. But here are my Top 5 favorite characters from the book:

1. Haley—Nuttiness you can’t buy.

2. Michael Irvin—Easy to love, easy to loathe, hard to comprehend.

3. Barry Switzer—A pretty horrible NFL coach, yet a nice man who tried his best but was just a bit over his head.

4. Larry Brown—Super Bowl XXX MVP was mocked throughout his career—then found redemption with two accidental interceptions.

5. James Washington—Bone-crushing safety who considered it his job to kill opposing receivers. Literally—to kill them.

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Boys Will Be Boys Book

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