There was a good show on PBS last night about George Plimpton, of which the above video is an excerpt. As I have said before, I love his most famous book, Paper Lion, about his time as the “last-string” quarterback for the Detroit Lions. I also enjoyed his book Open Net about playing goalie for the Boston Bruins.
That’s really only the tip of the Plimpton iceberg, though. It would probably be faster to list all the things he didn’t do in life, but just read the Wikipedia synopsis of his career. I don’t think he could ever be accused of not living life to the fullest.
The thing that gets forgotten in the talk of the guts Plimpton had to try (and fail) all these difficult activities, is the fact that he was also a truly great writer. I recommend Paper Lion even to people who don’t care about football in the least, simply because it is so well-written.
Great book, so sad that he and Alex Karras, and most of the team he was with passed on. The movie didn’t do it justice.
I’ve never seen the movie–it would be hard to translate the book to the big screen, because so much of what make it good are the side-track anecdotes that don’t really relate to the “story” of Plimpton trying to make the team, but make for such interesting and funny reading.
He wrote a sequel “Mad Ducks and Bears” that contains more interviews with John Gordy and the always-hilariously outrageous Karras.