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home : columns : dave fjeld
October 18, 2019

9/4/2019 9:59:00 AM
Summer reading
I have a flat screen/work problem.
If there's a flat screen (TV, that is) where I'm residing, that's what I do, watch the flat screen. It offers vegetative entertainment after a day mostly spent writing and reading.
One would think that I would enjoy taking the opportunity to read something other than news or what I've written after a day at the newspaper office.
Nope, not really. I really want to watch - and not think.
And, yes, reading requires thinking, at least for me. I can't "scan read" - pick up most of what's in a sentence and fully understand what was just written.
I read as though someone's reading to me. And, if I know the author's voice, even better. I can actually hear him reading to me.
However, when there's not a flat screen around and I haven't been writing or reading all day, the opportunity to read is truly relaxing. Consequently, I did plenty of reading during our summer vacation to Northern Minnesota last month.
In fact, I think I set a personal summer vacation reading record, wrapping up four great reads during the week. Admittedly none of them were long and all of them, of course, were sports related.
I'll focus on two this week:
•  "His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir" by the late Dan Jenkins, bestselling author of "Semi-Tough."
•  "All the Way: My Life in Four Quarters" by Joe Namath, with Sean Mortimer and Don Yaeger.
Sadly, Dan Jenkins died in March, but I've always enjoyed his writing, which is one reason I wanted to read a story that chronicles his life. The other reason is I've always wanted to read about a sportswriter, since I was one for the first nearly 20 years that I wrote for newspapers.
His "semi-memoir," as he titles it, was written in 2014 and is an entertaining read about his personal and professional life.
I particularly enjoyed learning how he become a sportswriter. His forte was golf, a game he played in college, but he also enjoyed college football, which led to his novel, "Semi-Tough," which spun off into a hit movie by the same name.
However, his best stories involved the newspapers and magazine for which he worked as well as some of the stories behind the stories of the famous people he interviewed and covered.
Some of his recounted conversations are a hoot as well.
Definitely worth the read.
As for Broadway Joe, well, it was an eye-opening read.
"All the Way: My Life in Four Quarters" is Namath's autobiography. The book is actually divided into four quarters - the four quarters of his life and his most famous game, the Jets' Super Bowl III upset of the Baltimore Colts. His recounting of the game is interspersed with stories from his life, a most interesting way to tell his life.
Most surprising to me was Namath's modesty. For years, I believed Namath to be an "all-about-me" kind of person and that's not the feeling he generates in his book - at all. He comes across as a man eager to genuinely deflect fame from himself to his teammates and others. Indeed, he holds the teammates with and the coaches under whom he played during his 13-year NFL career in high regard.
Th biggest take-away for me was his explanation of a 2003 Monday Night Football TV halftime interview in which he was drunk when interviewed by Suzy Kolber. Namath never saw a replay of the interview, but friends had informed him of the debacle. The incident - after which he called Kolber to apologize and whom Namath says was "beyond gracious" - was the wake-up call he needed regarding his addiction to alcohol.
The book revealed a side of Namath I never expected to see, but I'm glad I did. It's a quick read and worth your time.

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