Not everybody wants to call them America's Team, but nobody will deny that the Dallas Cowboys have been front and center in the nation's headlines for decades. In Boys Will Be Boys, award-winning sportswriter Jeff Pearlman probes the on-field, off-field, and sometimes courtroom activities of the most controversial team from the Lone Star State. Sex, drugs, All-Pros, and egos in a great football dynasty.
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.
Great teams and personalities provide fertile ground for good writers. The team of the Nineties, the Cowboys, was not short on talent or personality with the likes of Jerry Jones, Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Charles Haley, and Nate Newton. Pearlman engagingly profiles the rise and fall of that raucous, drug-fueled, sex-addled team in titillating detail. Some of the vulgar behavior reported here is shocking even in today's culture of regular bad behavior by prominent athletes (though some Cowboys, like Troy Aikman and Robert Jones, do come across as honorable). Pearlman's portrayal of sex, sin, and football in Big D will find readers in all public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ5/15/08.]
ESPN.com columnist Pearlman (Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds and the Making of an Antihero, 2007, etc.) offers a behind-the-scenes look at the on-field excellence and off-field shenanigans of "America's Team" during its 1990s heyday. It's a poorly kept secret that some superstar athletes have a soft spot for hard drugs, strong drinks and loose women. By some random chance of fate-or the hand of an unscrupulous owner-many of those athletes ended up on the Cowboys during the mid-'90s, players whose talent was surpassed only by their love of debauchery. When maverick oil magnate Jerry Jones purchased the team in 1989, he promptly and unceremoniously fired the franchise's legendary-and legendarily conservative-coach, Tom Landry. A firestorm of criticism ensued and intensified when University of Miami coach-and Jones's former teammate at the University of Arkansas-Jimmy Johnson, a man with no NFL experience, was tabbed as Landry's replacement. Though the players Jones and Johnson drafted and signed banded together to win a then-unprecedented three Super Bowl titles in four years, Pearlman's chronicle reveals a collection of sexual deviants (hulking defensive lineman Charles Haley was notorious for pleasuring himself in full view of his teammates during film sessions), drug abusers (hall-of-fame wide receiver Michael Irvin often snorted cocaine before sleeping with multiple prostitutes), heavy drinkers (including Johnson's successor as coach, Barry Switzer) and power-hungry egomaniacs (primarily Jones). The author doesn't delve too deeply into the on-field strategy behind the Cowboys' winning ways, but he makes up for it with countless salacious stories of late-night strip-club hijinks,backstabbing gossip and sordid legal affairs, including an attempt to cover up an incident in which Irvin slashed the throat of a teammate with a pair of scissors. A lurid yet riveting account of an undeniably charismatic, and often loathed, championship team. Readers may want to shower after reading. Agent: David Black/David Black Literary Agency
From the Publisher
"Jeff Pearlman has written a rip-roaring book filled with terrific reporting and vibrant prose.... It's a flat-out winner." Jonathan Eig, New York Times bestselling author of Opening Day
Read an Excerpt
Boys Will Be Boys
The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty
Scissors to the Neck
You can do a lot of things in life. You can't stab a teammate with a pair of scissors.
—Kevin Smith, Cowboys cornerback
Michael Irvin knew he was screwed.
There, dangling in his right hand, was a pair of silver scissors, bits of shredded brown skin coating the tips. There, clutching his own throat, was Everett McIver, a 6-foot, 5-inch, 318-pound hulk of a man, blood oozing from the 2-inch gash in his neck. There, standing to the side, were teammates Erik Williams, Leon Lett, and Kevin Smith, slack-jawed at what they had just seen.
It was finally over. Everything was over. The Super Bowls. The Pro Bowls. The endorsements. The adulation. The dynasty.
The greatest wide receiver in the history of the Dallas Cowboys—a man who had won three Super Bowls; who had appeared in five Pro Bowls; whose dazzling play and sparkling personality had earned him a devoted legion of followers—knew he would be going to prison for a long time. Two years if he was lucky. Twenty years, maximum.
Was this the first time Irvin had exercised mind-numbing judgment? Hardly. Throughout his life, the man known as The Playmaker had made a hobby of breaking the rules. As a freshman at the University of Miami fourteen years earlier, Irvin had popped a senior lineman in the head after he had stepped in front of him in a cafeteria line. In 1991, Irvin allegedly shattered the dental plate and split the lower lip of a referee whose call hedisagreed with in a charity basketball game. Twice, in 1990 and '95, Irvin had been sued by women who insisted he had fathered their children out of wedlock. In May 1993, Irvin was confronted by police after launching into a tirade when a convenience store clerk refused to sell his eighteen-year-old brother, Derrick, a bottle of wine. When Gene Upshaw visited Dallas minicamp that same month to explain an unpopular contractual agreement, Irvin greeted the NFL union chief first by screaming obscenities, then by pulling down his pants and flashing his exposed derriere.fnbjgnbgjnbgjnbgjgjgjgnjgjgjjggj
Most famously, there was the incident in a Dallas hotel room on March 4, 1996—one day before Irvin's thirtieth birthday—when police found The Playmaker and former teammate Alfredo Roberts with two strippers, 10.3 grams of cocaine, more than an ounce of marijuana, and assorted drug paraphernalia and sex toys. Irvin—who greeted one of the on-scene officers with, "Hey, can I tell you who I am?"—later pleaded no contest to a felony drug charge and received a five-game suspension, eight hundred hours of community service, and four years' probation.
But stabbing McIver in the neck, well, this was different. Through the litany of his boneheaded acts, Irvin had never—not once—deliberately hurt a teammate. Did he love snorting coke? Yes. Did he love lesbian sex shows? Yes. Did he love sleeping with two, three, four, five (yes, five) women at a time in precisely choreographed orgies? Yes. Did he love strip clubs and hookers and house calls from exotic dancers with names like Bambi and Cherry and Saucy? Yes, yes, yes.
Was he loyal to his football team? Undeniably.
Throughout the Cowboy reign of the 1990s, which started with a laughable 115 season in 1989 and resulted in three Super Bowl victories in four years, no one served as a better teammate—as a better role model—than Michael Irvin. He was first to the practice field in the morning, the last to leave at night. He wore weighted pads atop his shoulders to build muscle and refused to depart the complex before catching fifty straight passes without a drop. Twelve years after the fact, an undrafted free agent quarterback named Scott Semptimphelter still recalls Irvin begging him to throw slants following practice on a 100-degree day in 1995. "In the middle of the workout Mike literally threw up on himself as he ran a route," says Semptimphelter. "Most guys would put their hands on their knees, say screw this, and call it a day. Not Michael. He got back to the spot, ran another route, and caught the ball."
That was Irvin. Determined. Driven. A 100-mph car on a 50-mph track. Chunks of vomit dripping from his jersey.
Following the lead of their star wide receiver, Cowboy players and coaches outpracticed, outhustled, out-everythinged every other team in the National Football League. Sure, the Cowboys of the 1990s were bursting with talent—from quarterback Troy Aikman and running back Emmitt Smith to defensive backs Deion Sanders and Darren Woodson—but it was an unrivaled intensity that made Dallas special. During drills, Irvin would see a teammate slack off and angrily lecture, "Don't be a fuckin' pussy! Be a fuckin' soldier! Be my soldier!" He would challenge defensive backs to rise to the highest level. "Bitch, cover me!" he'd taunt Sanders or Kevin Smith. "C'mon, bitch! C'mon, bitch! C'mon!" When the play ended he'd offer a quick pat on the rear. "Nice job, brother. Now do it again." Irvin was the No. 1 reason the Cowboys won Super Bowls in 1992, '93, and '95, and everybody on the team knew it. "The man just never stopped," says Hubbard Alexander, the Dallas wide receivers coach. "He was only about winning."
And yet, there Michael Irvin stood on July 29, 1998, staring down at a new low. The scissors. The skin. The blood. The gagging teammate. That morning a Dallas-based barber named Vinny had made the two-and-a-half-hour drive to Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, where the team held its training camp. He set up a chair inside a first-floor room in the Cowboys' dormitory, broke out the scissors and buzzers, and chopped away, one refrigerator-sized head after another.
After a defensive back named Charlie Williams finished receiving his cut, McIver jumped into the chair. It was his turn.
Although only the most die-hard of Dallas Cowboy fans had heard of him, Everett McIver was no rookie. Not in football, and certainly not in life. Boys Will Be Boys
The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty. Copyright © by Jeff Pearlman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.