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Boys Will Be Boys: The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty Hardcover – September 16, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
In his latest effort, Pearlman (The Bad Guys Won!) tells the story of how the Dallas Cowboys went from being a league doormat to a Super Bowl–winning machine. It's the cast of characters that makes this story a page-turner, starting with controlling owner Jerry Jones; all-business coach Jimmy Johnson, who would cut a player without blinking; and star players Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, Emmitt Smith and Deion Sanders. Pearlman explores the many other people who bought into the philosophy that if you were going to be a Dallas Cowboy... you needed to live the life—and that meant, in the early '90s, plenty of infidelity, cocaine, nightly trips to gentleman's clubs and hangovers at practice. Pearlman interviewed nearly 150 members of the Cowboys organization for the book, but much of the terrific detail comes from such tangential folks as journalists, players' wives and staff at the local Cowboys restaurant. The anecdotes range from uplifting (the heartwarming story of quarterback Troy Aikman granting a wish to a dying boy) to raunchy (defensive end Chris Haley, while playing for the 49ers, often masturbated in the locker room). In the end, Pearlman has produced a narrative that is as entertaining as it is insightful. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In February 1989, Jerry Jones bought the Dallas Cowboys, immediately fired the iconic Tom Landry, and hired Jimmy Johnson from the collegiate ranks. The team would end the 1989 season with the worst record in the league. In a city that lives and breathes the Cowboys, the natives were restless. But in short order all was right in Big D as the team, led by future Hall-of-Famers Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman, and Emmitt Smith, won three Super Bowls in four years. The on-field success was paralleled by off-field excess. Drugs, strip clubs, orgies, fights, marital infidelities, and, finally, one player stabbing another in the neck with scissors. Pearlman, who seems to revel in the seamy side of sports—his The Bad Guys Won! (2004) was an account of the equally lecherous 1986 New York Mets—interviewed players, coaches, and others while also plumbing print sources. Yes, he dishes the dirt, but he also catches the team dynamic that fostered success as well as the infighting that led to disaster. Informative as well as titillating. --Wes Lukowsky
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Top customer reviews
It was last, but is my best summer read so far. Titling and cover issues aside, if you have interest in the subject, this is THE read. Nice organization and great research, combined with solid writing takes you through a journey that has just the right pace.
I strongly think that a work like this needs to be reworked with a less, uhh, "uninspired" title and given a professionally inspired cover, because it is a serious book in the world of the Cowboys and NFL history.
Personally, my enjoyment of following professional football ended in the 1980s as the 90s ushered in the new (and ongoing) phase of big money, massive media attention and selfishness compounded by stratospheric egos; an era defined by individuals outshining teams. After reading BOYS WILL BE BOYS, I now clearly see that the seeds for this change were sown when Jerry Jones decided to purchase the Dallas Cowboys. There are plenty of examples of outrageousness associated with Super Bowl champions (the ’85 Bears come to mind), but the NFL “dynasties” associated with the 60s (the disciplined Packers), 70s (the blue collar Steelers) and 80s (the nice-guy 49ers) don’t hold a candle to the outrageous swagger associated with the Cowboys of the 90s.
While this is the first Pearlman book I’ve read, his other books reveal a penchant for tackling more controversial sports subjects (Barry Bonds and Roger Clemons, for example). I was wondering if this book on the Cowboys was going to be an opinionated hatchet job to discredit a team with a huge fan base (and a hate-base that is arguably even larger). Instead of providing raw meat to Cowboy-haters (a sure bet for a bestseller?), Pearlman offers a refreshingly fair analysis of the 90s Cowboys that heaps equal doses of praise and scorn. Looking at this team and all its parts (players, coaches and owner) was like opening-up and examining an overstuffed Chipotle burrito … a messy pile of meat, rice and beans neatly wrapped by a soft tortilla. Starting with Jerry Jones purchasing the Cowboys, readers are taken on an entertaining ride that accounts for a good amount of football (three Super Bowl wins) and a whole lot of drama and decadence … a “sports-opera”. Many may know the framework of this dynamic team; its foundation is comprised of household names and sports legends (Jimmy Johnson, Michael Irvin, Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman, etc.). But, rather than simply telling a story of how these men contributed to Dallas’ success, Pearlman weaves mini-biographies of each individual added to the storyline … revealing and intimate, these background stories certainly add depth to the book and explain (not justify) so much of the headline-making behavior I always associated with this team. I had no idea how bad the childhoods were for so many players and especially coach Barry Switzer.
Pearlman pulls most of his material from a large number of former Cowboy players. But, there is a noticeable absence of certain names from his pool of sources, names that comprise a bulk of the book’s content: Jimmy Johnson, Jerry Jones, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Deion Sanders and Charles Haley. With that being said, contributions from Michael Irvin and Barry Switzer certainly add a degree of credibility (which is important, considering the scandalous nature of so many off-field events being detailed often included them).
So what was so appealing about BOYS WILL BE BOYS? What I enjoyed so much about this book was that I received a better understanding of what those Cowboy teams were really all about … the good and the bad. While I remember snickering about the Cowboys 1-15 record in Johnson’s first season as coach, I appreciated reading how Johnson turned things around so quickly with his respected, but ill-received heavy-handed coaching style. Additionally, there is plenty of football discussed, including candid peer-commentary detailing the varying degrees of talent and work ethic of teammates. It is truly interesting how such a diverse group of players functioned so well (for a while) and how things started to unravel at the seams when Switzer replaced Johnson as the coach and an undisciplined team won a Super Bowl on sheer talent. Unlike other accounts of storied teams, those Cowboys seemed to celebrate their success, fame and wealth like no other and it eventually caught up with them (retribution). The mix of athletic achievement, big money, egos, drugs, alcohol, hookers, personality disorders and tension are the ingredients that make this book hard to put down. It is evident that the ego-driven Jerry Jones and the larger-than-life personas of “Prime Time”, Irvin and others are responsible for ushering in the materialistic, greedy and gaudy nature that constitutes the NFL we know today.
It really doesn’t matter if you love or hate the Cowboys to enjoy BOYS WILL BE BOYS … I don’t even think it matters whether or not you like football. This book is simply a well-written and entertaining group of stories that reveals what really lurks behind the façade of glory associated with winning big in (American) professional sports.
Pearlman's narrative follows the team from Jerry's purchase in 1989, through the Super Bowls, and the fall of that team. We see what drove the players off the field and on it, from the work hard/play hard Irvin, to the cool Aikman we get a fly on the wall look at what drove the team to such heights.
If you're a football fan it also serves as a cautionary tale on the trappings of ego. As a current Cowboys fan, one can see where the ashes of the team of the 90's haunts the current crop as Dallas continues to return to the glory days.
You will gain a deeper appreciation for the players and what they went through from this book. That's what I enjoyed most.
I'd go into greater detail, but it's better getting it from the book!