Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Book Review: Hero of the Underground

This book is getting a lot of attention around the country, and deservedly so. I had been looking forward to reading it ever since I heard that it was coming out earlier this year. The advance reviews & praise for it only made it that much more intriguing to pick up before we left for vacation.

For those that aren't Nebraska fans, or football fans in general, Jason Peter was one of the mainstays on defense through Nebraska's incredible championship runs of the mid-90's. Drafted in the middle ofthe 1st round of the NFL Draft in 1997 by the Carolina Panthers, he began to lean on painkillers to get through injuries and surgeries on his knees and neck. Finally after doctors refused to clear him to play, he was forced to walk away from the game in 2001. With the only thing important in his life now taken away, Jason was left with his addiction to pills and thoughts of what only could've been. Life spiraled out of control pretty fast after that. Written in a straightforward fashion, Jeson relives some pretty awful tales, including a failed suicide attempt, 3 stints in rehab, and the now infamous private jet ride from NYC to L.A: a cocaine, heroin, and hooker-fueled party that was to be his last fling with drugs before entering rehab, again.

An absolutely brutal book to read at times, you can't put it down. Every few pages you keep thinking, "Okay, this is where he gets straight," and it only gets worse. But finally, he finds healing his own way, on his own terms, and he's alive (somehow) at the end to tell the story.

This book isn't for Nebraska fans, or even football fans. It's a book that's compelling to anyone, I think. Addiction isn't someone else's fault, and Jason gives inspiration to people who need to tackle their own issues by facing them head-on with personal strength and accountability.

Oh, and.....he doesn't like Lou Holtz. This stems from his younger brother Damien, a highly touted o-line recruit to Notre Dame who was partially paralysed in a swimming accident prior to his freshman year. Holtz never contacted Damien in his recovery time, or at any point after the accident to ask how he was doing, to give reassurance, anything. As you may guess, Jason and the family hold a bit of a grudge.

I still wouldn't turn down the opportunity to spit in Lou Holtz's f*cking face ... Each Saturday in the fall when Holtz makes his jovial, dumb ... remarks on ESPN, I hope he knows that there's at least one family on the other side of the screen, the Peter family, that knows what a piece of shake sh*t he really is.

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