Tough Luck: Sid Luckman, Murder, Inc., and the Rise of the Modern NFL

Tough Luck: Sid Luckman, Murder, Inc., and the Rise of the Modern NFL

by R. D. Rosen


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In the long annals of sports and crime, no story compares to the one that engulfed the Luckman family in 1935. As 18-year-old Sid Luckman made headlines across New York City for his high school football exploits at Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, his father, Meyer Luckman, was making headlines in the same papers for a very different reason: the gangland murder of his own brother-in-law. Amazingly, when Sid became a star at Columbia and a Hall of Fame NFL quarterback in Chicago, all of it while Meyer Luckman served 20-years-to-life in Sing Sing Prison, the connection between sports celebrity son and mobster father was studiously ignored by the press and ultimately overlooked for eight decades.

Tough Luck traces two simultaneous historical developments through a single immigrant family in Depression-era New York: the rise of the National Football League led by the dynastic Chicago Bears, whose famed owner George Halas convinced Sid Luckman to help him turn the sluggish game of pro football into America’s favorite pastime; and the demise—triggered by Meyer Luckman’s crime and initial coverup—of the Brooklyn labor rackets and Louis Lepke’s infamous organization Murder, Inc. Filled with colorful characters—from ambitious district attorney-turned-governor Thomas Dewey and legendary columnist Walter Winchell, to Sid Luckman’s rival quarterback “Slingin’” Sammy Baugh and pro football’s unsung intellectual genius Clark Shaughnessy; from the lethal Lepke and hit men like “Tick Tock” Tannenbaum, to Sid’s powerful post-career friends Frank Sinatra and Joe DiMaggio— Tough Luck memorably evokes an era of vicious Brooklyn mobsters and undefeated Monsters of the Midway, a time when the media kept their mouths shut and the soft-spoken son of a murderer could become a beloved legend with a hidden past.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802129444
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 09/03/2019
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 51,220
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

R. D. Rosen ’s many books include recent nonfiction that connects America’s past and present, including A Buffalo in the House: The True Story of a Man, an Animal, and the American West and Such Good Girls: The Journey of the Holocaust’s Hidden Child Survivors. He won an Edgar Allan Poe Award for his first of five mystery novels featuring retired Jewish major league baseball player-turned-detective Harvey Blissberg, and has written about sports for many national publications. He has served as a senior editor for both ESPN Books and Workman Publishing, and once upon a time wrote or performed comedy for PBS, HBO, and Saturday Night Live. He grew up across the street from Sid Luckman in Highland Park, Illinois, and lives in New York, where he still roots for the Chicago Bears.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Quarterback Next Door 1

1 Hog-Tied and Trussed 11

2 The Erasmus Terror 18

3 One Heartless Tangle 28

4 A Worrisome Gent 43

5 Specialized Persuasions 50

6 A Good Future in Trucking 61

7 Up the River 83

8 Captive City 89

9 A Fast Passing Game 99

10 Runaround 113

11 Rookie 121

12 They All Laughed 129

13 Whiners, Crybabies, and Quitters 139

14 Barrage 150

15 Temptations 159

16 High-Priced Help 168

17 Another Botched Job 173

18 Almost to a T 180

19 With a Thud 190

20 Casualties 197

21 A Surprising Comment 206

22 Last Dance 213

23 Bingo Keep It 223

24 A Congestion of Quarterbacks 232

25 Gifts 242

26 Secrets 255

27 Who Do You Think You Are, Sid Luckman? 262

Postgame Commentary and Acknowledgments 275

Selected Notes 283

Bibliography 291

Index 295

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Tough Luck: Sid Luckman, Murder, Inc., and the Rise of the Modern NFL 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
B-loNY 12 days ago