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on December 6, 2013
I went into this book with the conscious decision to not think about Leaf's NFL experience, on or off the field. This is about his years at WSU, and I decided to take that at face value and dismiss everything that came after, both personally and professionally. He tells the story of his experiences on and off the field about his life as a very successful QB of a freakishly successful football team who led his team all the way to the Rose Bowl. He relates the highlights of each game with great fondness and excitement, making me feel emotionally part of the story. He's still pumped all these years later about those victories and that elation really comes through; he remembers wonderful details that make each game exciting without getting bogged down in technical details. He praises all of his teammates for their contributions and acknowledges that it was a team effort. I put off reading the chapter about his Rose Bowl because I already knew WSU had lost and I found myself wishing for a "Time Turner" so they could win it!

But then he decided to share some of his less-than-noble personal moments, and so in spite of my good intentions to maintain an objective point of view in the story I couldn't help but develop an opinion about him personally. He claims that much of his poor behavior was as a result of trying to conceal a timid, insecure person with poor social skills. I can't be certain whether he came to that conclusion himself or if a counselor suggested that to him. Either way, he appears to hope that this absolves him of at least a little bit of responsibility for his attitude and actions. 'Ah-ha,' we're supposed to think, 'False bravado. Trying to look confident instead of emotionally weak in front of intimidating teammates.' Eh, not so much. We don't excuse murderers from murder because they had bad childhoods, but then again, that particular comparison is too extreme. That said, it's just hard to overlook THAT much unpleasant behavior and immaturity and write it off as a little bit of secret performance anxiety. He has clearly been raised in a loving, supportive home, and he'd had too much personal and athletic success throughout most of his adolescence to suffer that much self-doubt. OTOH, he is apologetic about it, and the way he writes this, it makes it a little easier to forgive him... If only he had learned some of those very important lessons THEN.

I know where he is as of this writing and what he did to end up there has to do ONLY with the crimes he committed and NOT because he happens to have an abrasive personality. It still seems that he has to be told after the fact when his behavior has been less-than-stellar. He acknowledges that his past behavior is unacceptable, but he seems unable to recognize those crucial moments ahead of time and stop that behavior or those actions before he acts on them. He has read a very sincere apology in court (it's on youtube) for his behavior and I'm sure he's genuinely regretful, but I just don't know whether he truly understands his guilt or if he's been told that it would be better for him if he appeared sorry. Then again, the crimes he committed were solely because of addiction. Drug addicts by their very nature lose sight of the line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. He didn't commit a violent crime to feed his addiction, which is reason feel relief. But most of this doesn't really matter. At this point it's all up to him, regardless of what I think. I do, however, maintain hope that he will eventually overcome that part of his personality.
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on October 31, 2011
When I purchased this book I didn't have high hopes for its contents. However, after I read the first few pages, I found myself pleasantly surprised and engaged. Leaf does an exceptional job of explaining the path to becoming a Cougar and the magical season that brought an end to the Rose Bowl drought. As someone who was a student at WSU when Leaf was the quarterback it's a pleasure to have so many cherished memories brought back to life. Leaf does a good job bringing the reader along for the ride from his decision to go to WSU, to his early development, to an explanation of each game during that unforgettable season. Perhaps most refreshing is that Leaf tells the stories while fully admitting his mistakes (both during his time at WSU and later during his pro career) and giving lots of credit to those who were with him and who helped him develop into an exceptional college player. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is at WSU, wants to go to WSU, or has graduated and forever has that Cougar Pride!
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on October 27, 2011
I really enjoyed reading the book! Didn't truly become a Coug fan until well after Leaf's time but it was great reading about a such a time in Cougar history! Not only that but I feel like he gives good insight into being a college athlete overall, not just at WSU. Perhaps some schools (Oregon) won't like what he says about their fans but overall a great read for all college football fans, especially Cougs!
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on January 30, 2012
I enjoyed the insider account of the big college recruiting game. I also liked how the author captured the loyalty and passion of the WSU fans in the Pullman area. Game day was captured very, very well. If I had grown up in Washington I think I definitely would have been a WSU fan for sure. I also loved the Rose Bowl chapter. The problem with the book is the size of Ryan Leaf's head. Even though he did make it a point to acknowledge that he was a total narcissist unlikable perfectionist and ego maniac, I found that that by telling his story and by pointing out certain things that he had said or things that he had done he was almost relishing how damn wonderful it was to be RYAN LEAF, or as he calls himself in the book, "The only WSU quarterback to ever beat USC in the Coliseum". To be honest, I was repulsed. He had to stretch away from his team before practice, he had to wear white shoes when everyone else wore black, he had to brag about sleeping with the granddaughter of a Heisman Trophy winner. News flash to Ryan Leaf: No one outside of eastern Washington cares about you! The fact that you are in love with yourself turns people's stomachs and to be honest, most people enjoyed seeing you flop on your face in San Diego. Was it all worth it? Now here is the challenge: I think this book was a great way to begin the redemption process. I hope the storytelling was a sincere way of acknowledging a past that you are not proud of. I hope the author has matured and I hope younger athletes reading this book see the destructiveness of selfishness and the hazards of a ME ME ME ME outlook on life. The final issue with the book that could have been handled better was the fact there was no wrap up or epilogue where the author at least summarized the San Diego Chargers situation, the Mike Price Alabama situation, the West Texas situation. Did he stand up for his coach? How has he grown from his younger days? He hints at it but he never really tells the reader anything! What has he been doing for the past ten years? In summary, I hope Ryan Leaf grows up, puts his over-sized head away, and begins the process of mending some fences. Reach out to Cougar Nation and, talk to young people, perhaps mentor athletes through the recruiting process. Was this book the first step towards this? Time will tell.
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on November 16, 2011
This book was so entertaining and well written. The characters in it are of course real life but they are so colorful and interesting that you really get vested in their outcomes. For me, this was a story about persistence, loyalty and second chances, and all the stuff that goes on behind the scenes of college football. I read this in two nights. Really couldn't put it down. The chapters on Boise State and Oregon had me laughing out loud. Definitely worth picking up.
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on October 28, 2011
I have to be honest, I am a WSU alum and therefore automatically read anything written by a former coug or about WSU. With that being said, Id recommend this book to anyone who loves College football or sports in general. The name of the book comes from the play WSU would have ran to try and win the 97 Rosebowl, had they not been "cheated" (in some peoples eyes) out of two final seconds against eventual national champion Michigan. This book provides great insights not only to that team and special season but to a young man who had his share of demons. Ryan is owning up to his mistakes and trying to make right in peoples eyes now after growing up.

Recommend it, worth a read.
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on November 3, 2011
Just how I like them, short and sweet and fun to read. Sit back and enjoy this book with your favorite beverage, because Mr. Leaf tells a fantastic story. He takes you through his four years of major college football. I couldn't wait to pick the book back up and read a few more chapters once I started it. If you are interested in how things work in recruiting and college athletics this book is for you. I can't wait for his next book.
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on May 6, 2012
I checked out this book from the Maple Valley Library right after Ryan got in trouble again, which was extremely sad. It had looked right up to this point that Ryan was getting on the right track. In this book he really owns up to many of his mistakes, but better yet, brings readers in to the exciting 1997 Cougar Rose Bowl season. If you are a Cougar football fan, you will love this book. If you are a Ryan Leaf fan, you hope and pray that he can get through his latest problems. Just a reminder that this book may not be as enjoyable to those who are not a fan of Cougar football. There is also very little in the book that sheds a light on some of the bad behaviour he exhibited as a San Diego Charger.
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on July 15, 2012
After hearing the stories about Ryan Leaf, I was expecting this to be an effort to protect his legacy, but this book was refreshingly honest. If you know the story of Ryan's life that took place after the publication of this book, you can see that the seeds were planted earlier and are not surprised at the turn his life subsequently took. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone wanting to learn about this period in WSU football and anyone wanting to get the story on Ryan Leaf.
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on November 4, 2011
I never thought I'd read a book authored by Cryin Leaf. But after hearing an interview and then reading the book, I am a convert and fan of Ryan Leaf. A true Redemtion and self discovery story all intertwined. good read. Wish him the best henceforth!
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