As a kid, the only thing I loved more than baseball cards was reading books about the players on those cards. I devoured biographies, especially, and also tore through collections of behind-the-scenes anecdotes. I've been fortunate enough to write five such books. Here are the stories behind them, in the order they were published.
- In 1999, right after I became Texas Sports Editor for the AP, my recently retired predecessor - Denne H. Freeman - was offered the chance to write "I Remember Tom Landry," which would be filled with memories of the coach from those who knew him best. Denne liked the idea of capping his career with this book, but didn't like the idea of working that hard. So he asked if I would do it with him. Landry died just before we started the project, and memories of him were fresh in the minds of many. We ended up telling his life story through tales shared by more than 150 friends, relatives and rivals.
- The publisher appreciated my efforts on the Landry book so much that they asked me to write the first NBA book for another series. The result was "Tales from the Dallas Mavericks Locker Room." It came out in 2003, just as the team was on the upswing. Eight years later, I was covering the Mavs in the NBA finals when I got a call from the publisher about updating the book - but only if they beat LeBron James and the Miami Heat. They did, of course, and the book was reissued that summer, with the years since '03 covered and a new cover showing off their new hardware.
- Another publisher contacted me in 2006 to do the local edition of another series. It's called "The Best Dallas-Fort Worth Sports Arguments," and I describe it as sports-talk radio in book form. I came up with 100 questions and all 100 answers, but only after delving into both sides of the debate. (This is the book that landed on the desk of a former minority owner of the Texas Rangers, a guy who at the time also was President of the United States. The thank-you note I received from George W. Bush is pictured on the front of this site.)
- The year before the Dallas Cowboys turned 50, I read about a new sports division at a publisher that already was putting out coffee table books on NFL teams. They'd yet to put out a book on the Cowboys, so adding this team to this series, tied to the 50-year anniversary, just made sense. The resulting product - "The Complete Illustrated History of the Dallas Cowboys" - looks terrific, and I like to think the writing is just as strong. (Last I heard, it's still on the coffee table in Jerry Jones' office.) The publisher was so pleased that they allowed me to follow up with my favorite and most challenging project to date. ...
- "Breakthrough 'Boys" is the story of the most important season in Cowboys history, the year they went from being the team that couldn't win the big one to being Super Bowl champions, the U-turn that vaulted them to becoming "America's Team" within a few years. Beyond all that, the 1971 season was filled with wildly colorful characters (Duane Thomas didn't speak to his teammates or coaches), a quarterback controversy (Landry was so perplexed by Staubach vs. Morton that he had them alternate plays in one game) and even a stadium change (goodbye, Cotton Bowl; hello, Texas Stadium). This club is rarely mentioned as one of the greatest in NFL history, which is a shame. Here's just one amazing tidbit: they're the only team not to allow a touchdown in the Super Bowl, and they did so against a club that would go 17-0 the next year and win the next two Super Bowls. OK, here's one more tidbit: half of their 22 starters in that Super Bowl are now enshrined in the Hall of Fame or the Ring of Honor, and that doesn't even count Landry and team president Tex Schramm.
- At its core, "So You Think You're A Dallas Cowboys Fan" is a mash-up of a trivia book and a team history. Each question is answered with a detailed story, bringing to life the players, coaches, games and seasons that turned the Dallas Cowboys into America's Team. The book is broken into four sections, each harder than the next: rookie, starter, All-Pro and Ring of Honor. The goal is that at end of the book, every reader will be a knowledgeable Cowboys fan.