The new 448-page Jeff Pearlman biography of Number 4, Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbably, Iconic Life of Brett Favre, comes out today. In my working life, I am a reference librarian and review sports books for Library Journal. Each August, I do a roundup of upcoming football books and so read a reviewer’s copy of the book in June. Here is what I wrote for LJ:
Jeff Pearlman is known for writing the full story, warts and all. He did so with Walter Payton (Sweetness, 2012) and the 1990s Dallas Cowboys (Boys Will Be Boys, 2009). Here, he takes on perhaps the most celebrated football player of the last 25 years, Brett Favre. The record-setting quarterback was tough as nails on the field, but his giant talent was hampered by a tendency to make bad decisions and costly mistakes at key moments. Likewise, Pearlman, who interviewed over 500 sources for this biography, demonstrates how Favre regularly undermined himself and his family with problems of addiction and serial infidelity. All of which was kept out of the press until his final years when he was implicated in an embarrassing sexting scandal with a Jets employee. Still, the author presents Favre as a congenial, larger-than-life character, a “gunslinger,” who was fun to watch play and hard to root against.
VERDICT: Pearlman is a good match for his subject and this book is compelling to read.
The interesting thing to Pearlman was that even though Favre declined to participate, he put up no barriers to the author in his interviews with Favre’s family and closest friends. With the picture that emerges of Brett and his father and their robust drinking and womanizing, that openness is surprising. There is also a new biography of Snake Stabler coming out in November, and there are clear similarities in how these two southern quarterbacks lived their lives on and off the field…to destructive excess but with undeniable charm.
Some custom Favre cards.