I’ve spent an ungodly amount of my life either playing sports or watching them. Although a broader curiosity about life, and a disinclination to interview cliché-addled athletes in crowded locker rooms, prevented me from making sportswriting a career, I’ve indulged from time to time in personal sports-related essays. The most ambitious of these efforts is an article for sbnation.com titled “Mortal Gods,” about Al Rosen, a great Jewish ballplayer of the 1950s whose relationship to me, though not familial, has been almost spiritual over the years.
In 2017, I stumbled on the sports story I had been waiting for: The incredible true story of Hall of Fame quarterback Sid Luckman, whose mobbed-up father went to prison for murder in 1936, just as his son was beginning his brilliant career for Columbia University and the Chicago Bears. Thanks to the courtesy of that era’s sportswriters, and Sid Luckman’s own silence, the father’s vicious crime and conviction were soon suppressed and forgotten. I dropped what I was doing and dove into the Shakespearean tragedy of Sid Luckman’s otherwise triumphant life, publishing Tough Luck: The Untold Story of Sid Luckman, Murder Inc., and the Rise of the Modern NFL.
Also included here are “The Daughter You Have,” an essay I contributed to the anthology Fathers & Daughters & Sports, and a short story, “Mamzer,” based on the early days of professional basketball, adapted from my screenplay Cagers.
“Mortal Gods” (sbnation.com, 9/2012)
“Fond Memories of Football at Wrigley” (espn.com, 10/12/10)
“The Daughter You Have” (from Fathers & Daughters & Sports, ESPN Books, 2010)
“Mamzer” (from Murder at the Foul Line: Original Tales of Hoop Dreams and Deaths from Today’s Great Writers, Mysterious Press, 2006)