Bigger Than the Game: Bo, Boz, the Punky QB, and How the '80s Created the Modern Athlete

Michael Weinreb, Author
Michael Weinreb, Gotham, $26 (288 pp) ISBN 978-1-592-40559-6
Reviewed on: 06/21/2010
Release date: 08/01/2010
Paperback - 337 pages - 978-1-59240-637-1
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-101-45923-2
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-101-45954-6
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-101-45861-7
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-101-45892-1
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The mid-1980s introduced an unapologetic athlete archetype that captured headlines and airtime, taking advantage of a 24-hour news cycle and America's newfound appreciation of flashy, independent-minded heroes both real and fictional such as Ronald Reagan and Rocky Balboa. Weinreb expertly tracks this evolution via a quartet of athletes from that era: Chicago Bears headband-wearing, antiauthority quarterback Jim McMahon, who was more successful as a zeitgeist marketing tool than as a player; multi-sport star and Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson, who viewed his legendary athleticism as an investment; college basketball star Len Bias, whose fatal cocaine overdose hardened a sports-loving nation and led to its misguided obsession over illegal drugs; and flamboyant college football star Brian "The Boz" Bosworth, whose quest for publicity led him to the University of Oklahoma, where he consciously constructed an outrageous persona. In this lively and smart blend of essay and reporting, Weinreb (Game of Kings) details with conviction how seismic shifts in society and pop culture—soon-to-be behemoths Nike and ESPN were just hitting their strides—forever changed the conditions for attaining fame in sports, paving the way for the media-savvy athletes we know and (sometimes) love today. (Aug.)
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