The Pequod Review:
I admire George Plimpton’s career immensely, from his literary career as founder of The Paris Review to his cheery and high-spirited lifestyle. Today, he remains best known for his series of participatory sports memoirs describing his experiences as a professional athlete in a variety of sports: the NHL (Open Net), NFL (Paper Lion and Mad Ducks and Bears), MLB (Out of My League), golf (The Bogey Man), and boxing (Shadow Box). In each of these cases, Plimpton was given extraordinary access not just to the players, but to active participation in tryouts, scrimmages, and even exhibition games. (Lawyers would never allow this today.) Despite the immense promise of these books, his observations are unfortunately somewhat predictable and unenlightening. His two best books, and probably the only ones worth reading, are Open Net (about his experiences with the NHL’s Boston Bruins) and this book Paper Lion (with the NFL’s Detroit Lions). Paper Lion includes just enough behind-the-scenes insights and turns of phrase (the line of scrimmage sounds like “someone shaking a sack of venetian blinds”) to make it worthwhile.