Jeff Pearlman

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Liars, and the writers they lie to

“I drank lots and lots of orange juice, ate large mounds of steak, and now I’m the best. The end.”

Lance Armstrong owes Sally Jenkins more than just an apology.

Supposedly he uttered the words—”I’m sorry”—the other day; told her that he felt awful about having her write his autobiography, It’s Not About The Bike, when he was completely and totally full of shit. Sorry isn’t enough. Sally Jenkins deserves her time back. Her labor back. Her financial resources back. Her reputation back. Jenkins has been gracious, it seems, in the aftermath of Armstrong’s admission. Which, to me, is a tad baffling.

Because Lance Armstrong made her look like a fool.

Not that this is anything new. In 2007, Loren Mooney, for former colleague at Sports Illustrated, wrote Floyd Landis’ autobiography, Positively False. The goal of this book was—as the title indicates—to show that Landis won the Tour de France as a clean, whole rider, with nary an illegal drug or blood infusion in his body. Here is what it says on Amazon under book description: “Floyd Landis details the highs and lows of his career with unabashed honesty. It is this same honesty with which he will clear his name once and for all, as he lays bare the inner workings of the cycling world.”

Uh …

I know … I know—writers. Who cares about writers? Well, I do. And it f-ing infuriates me how, by penning the autobiographies of lying asswipes, reputable scribes like Jenkins and Mooney and Marcos Bretón (Sammy Sosa: An Autobiography) end up losing … something. Not their skills, and not their status. But, well, their images, to a certain degree. From here on out, Sally Jenkins will always be known (among other things) as the scribe who wrote Lance Armstrong’s bullshit manifesto. She was the one who gave voice to his nonsense; who penned a runaway bestseller by a fraud.

It seems, when you lie as Armstrong and Landis and Sosa and others have, you tend not to consider how it’ll impact others. Everything is about you. Your success. Your greatness. Your income. Your money. Your status. If others are ultimately hurt, well, hey. Such is life.

In less than a month, Mike Piazza is coming out with his autobiography, My Shot. The co-writer is Lonnie Wheeler, a reputable author who has done books with, among others, Reggie Jackson and Bob Gibson. In the new book, Piazza supposedly denies denies denies using any PEDs, save for (the legal) Andro. This, inevitably, will be the talking point upon release; the item reviewers and pundits cling to.

For Lonnie Wheeler’s sake, it damn well better be the truth.

PS: Of Armstrong, Jenkins says, “People are going to have to accept that I don’t feel that for him. I feel disappointment. But he’s my friend.” To me, this is beyond amazing—and speaks to Jenkins’ decency. Because I’d be mad as all hell.

  • http://www.ThereItIsJakecom BlondiesJake

    Are writers doing these autobiographies for nothing but the pure joy of writing? NO! If you don’t want to be embarrassed, don’t write them and take the chance it will blow up on you. I’m pretty sure the earth will keep spinning on its axis if we don’t read any more books/stories by/about athletes.

  • Barry

    The Piazza book author is writing the book for money. If he was that worried about Piazza not being clean he shouldn’t have agreed to write the book. So it sure seems like money was the deciding factor to write the book not the truth.

  • michael

    i gotta say, i agree with you on one level but i have trouble thinking of who the ghostwriters even were for books like these. it’s not what i would remember them for.

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