Monday, January 30, 2023 Jan 30, 2023
28° F Dallas, TX


By Chris Tucker |

BOOKS Imagine a middleaged insurance agent who just wakes up one day and starts kicking 95-yard field goals for the 1982 Dallas Cowboys. That’s the idea behind The Man Who Ruined Football (Athen-eum, $14.95), a slack, lazily imagined novel by ELSTON BROOKS, a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Brooks-buddy DAN JENKINS {Dead Solid Perfect, Baja Oklahoma) plays two parts in this flaccid tale. The real-life Jenkins contributes a gooey puff on the book’s front cover. And in the novel, the “fictional” Jenkins arranges for the infallible kicker, Vic Waller, to try out for TOM LANDRY. Perhaps ol’ pal “Jenkie” also has connections at Atheneum?

Reviewers’ ethics forbid revealing the “climax” of The Man… But think about the title and imagine how an unstoppable field goal kicker would change football. Having done that, you’ll have put in as much work as Brooks did.

A total loss? No. The Man Who Ruined Football will make a nice Christmas gift for all the friends and idols whose names Brooks drops along the way: Landry, BLACKIE SHERROD, GIL BRANDT, VERN LUNDQUIST, and of course Jenkie, who blurbs out: “I wish I’d written it.”

Well, that might have made this a better book. But even friendship has its limits.