At a glance:
- Author: Brian Bosworth, Rick Reilly
- First Published: 1988
- Type of Work: Sports/Autobiography
- Genres: Nonfiction, Autobiography, Sports writing
As a result THE BOZ is no typical sports book, filled with anecdotes about game exploits, tributes to coaches and adversaries, and so on. Quite the contrary, it is an exercise in building up an image of Bosworth as “football’s most outrageous superstar” and a “modern anti-hero,” as the book’s cover boldly proclaims.
The contours of Bosworth’s image have not yet been fixed, though, and THE BOZ turns out to be a kind of dance through many possible variations. He starts off describing himself as a tough guy, someone with a “physical need to hurt people,” someone who would be in jail if he were not on a football field. Reading his comments about inflicting damage on opposing players is sometimes chilling rather than awe-inspiring, especially for anyone who can recall Jack Tatum’s paralyzing tackle of Darryl Stingley and other such consequences of this kind of kamikaze mentality.
Bosworth is not content with being only a tough guy: He also imagines himself as the ultimate nonconformist. His punk hairstyle, shades, and pierced earrings set him apart from the majority of football players, and it is refreshing to see him stand up against the mindless mass-mentality of typical team-sports players. His jibes at the N.C.A.A., which he rightly describes as the fussy, arrogant, and often incompetent custodian of a multimillion dollar “amateur” empire, coaches (such as Joe Paterno) who play up their “good guy” image too much, and other sacred cows of college football are on target and entertaining.
When he sets himself up as a heroic antihero, worthy of adulation by every child otherwise doomed to a life of conformity, the book becomes juvenile and uninteresting. The section on the Ten Boz Commandments, for example, displays a man deeply in the throes of taking himself far too seriously. He is at his best not when he is pontificating about spontaneity but when he is acting spontaneously. Then his off-the-cuff and off-the-wall comments are interesting and memorable, though not always endearing. His random observations about big-time college football, for example, may do something to dispel the naivete of fans who still believe that the game has anything to do with fair play and character building.
Bosworth is clearly a man with a plan, as he says early in the book, but the plan drafted in THE BOZ is filled with many false starts and dead ends. He is on his way to becoming a great NFL player and has already demonstrated a tremendous commercial appeal that will no doubt lead him from football through endorsements and adds to television and film appearances. He may have to hone his image considerably, however, to gain more than what THE BOZ may earn him: a place in the “Animal House” Hall of Fame or a role as the space cadet of nonconformity.
Did this raise a question for you?