There is a section early on in Will Leitch’s God Save The Fan that asserts that if the average fan had a chance to get to know a professional athlete on their favorite team, there is a good chance they wouldn’t have anything in common and they probably wouldn’t like each other too much.
I disagreed with the sentiment then (disclosure: I gave GSTF a moderately good review back in 2008) because I thought the reason fans and athletes were considered such different beings was due in part to the gatekeeper/journalistic wall built up between the two groups. In the years since the book’s release, we’ve seen the rise of Twitter and some great interaction between athletes and their fans. There are now plenty of athletes fans have unfiltered access to and for the most part, it’s been rather endearing to see them being regular people who live-Tweet TV shows, post pictures of their cats and complain about the bad turkey sandwiches they had for lunch. Just the other day one of my friends was talking politics with Chris Kluwe like two regular people would and it didn’t seem weird at all. Of course the other side of the coin is that fans can insult players and their families nonstop and occasionally we find out yeah, that guy playing ball is really a jerk.
I couldn’t help but think of Leitch’s point while reading Tony Siragusa’s new book, Goose: The Outrageous Life and Times of a Football Guy. As a football fan, Siragusa had always been to me one of those larger-than-life caricatures with a voice and ego to match his impressive size. I only faintly remember his Pitt years, mostly just the trial he and a bunch of other players were involved in for a fight in Oakland — a topic he mentions only briefly in the book, and his time playing in the NFL is a blur of the Rich Gannon hit and the 2000 Super Bowl in my mind. Another loud Raven in a murder of loud Ravens. His retirement from the game has given us a clearer picture from the dude’s dude of Man Cave construction and sideline reporting about what he’s seeing on the field as a former player, but clearly not an analyst, a role Siragusa rejects. Harmless, if a bit of a meathead. As an author telling supposedly hilarious stories about growing up, becoming a Super Bowl champion and a media personality, all I could think while reading Goose was, “Christ, what an asshole.”
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