Football Player Good at Football, Not So Good at Writing

BD_bruschi.jpgJust finished Tedy Bruschi’s new book, Never Give Up, and was left with three thoughts. First, Bruschi is an extremely impressive man and a hell of a football player. Second, Bruschi is not a very good writer and co-author Michael Holley didn’t do much to help. Third, didn’t anyone proof read this thing?

Told from Bruschi’s first-person perspective, the book details the linebacker’s rise to football prominence, his stunning stroke just days after playing in the 2005 Pro Bowl (you can read an excerpt, here) and his emotional return to the game.

It reads fast and Bruschi’s insights into his off the field struggle and on the field play (there’s a classic story of teammate Mike Vrabel shutting up a rival trash-talking QB) makes it worth the buy for any Patriots fan. But readers be warned, this book is sloppy. Embarrassingly sloppy.

The fault for that, most likely, lies with Holley, the former Globe columnist and current WEEI midday show host, who presumably was on hand to make Bruschi sound good. Instead, it’s filled with clunky prose and slapped together paragraphs. Take the book’s conclusion, which feels rushed and tacked on.

Worse than the clumsy writing are the number of halting mistakes. For instance, explaining his rationale to hire an agent for the first time in the aftermath of his stroke, Bruschi writes, “I had seen some nasty contract disputes and player exits in Foxboro, from Lawyer Milloy to Ty Law to Drew Bledsoe to Deion Branch.” But Branch’s contract dispute didn’t play itself out until 2006.

Equally jarring was when Bruschi recalled being invited to throw out the first pitch at the Red Sox 2005 season opener along with Bill Russell, Bobby Orr and Richard Seymour. He writes, “On a day when the Red Sox might be celebrating their first World Series title since 1918, the four of us had been selected to simultaneously throw out the ceremonial first pitch.” There was really no “might” about it. The Sox most definitely did celebrate their championship that day.

While this might sound like nit-picking at tiny mistakes, but when a book has enough of them, they become distracting. The biggest disappointment is Holley. Before he made the jump to talk radio-land, he looked like he was going to be the city’s next great sports writer (his 1999 column on the Walker Wiggle remains an all-time favorite). Either he was asleep at the typewriter or his radio gig has made him rusty, because the writing simply doesn’t measure up to the excellent work he did at the Globe. In fact, Tom Brady’s nicely done foreword is better written. But, hey, it still shouldn’t stop you from buying the book. Bruschi’s amazing.