I love this whole approach of picking apart successful yarns to figure out what makes them work. To get myself in the book-writing mindset, I’ve been doing likewise with a bunch of great stories from my formative years—things that have managed to stick with me all these decades later. It’s probably no great shock for me to tell y’all that a bunch of those stories are from the pages of Sports Illutrated.
A few weeks back I revisited the tale of steroid casulaty Tommy Chaikin. This time I’m giving the Microkhan nod to Steve Wulf’s 1991 profile of Percy Howard, a man with but one NFL reception to his credit. Fortunately for him, that reception came in the Super Bowl, a fact that has made him far more revered than any other one-catch receiver in football history.
But Howard’s wife says this feat may have actually caused her husband more harm than good. Here’s the passage that has stuck in my mind all these years, perhaps because I’ve always had a major soft spot for the book she cites:
Ah, the catch. Most people would consider it a great blessing. Percy certainly does. Pat, on the other hand, considers it a curse. “In a way, it was the worst thing that could have happened,” she says. “Percy got the big head after that, and he could never come to grips with reality. Believe me, he was a different person before the catch. It reminds me of Santiago’s catch in The Old Man and the Sea. It was a great feat, but by the time he has brought the catch to shore, it has been eaten by other fish, and all he has left are bones.”
The couple were recently divorced when the article was published, so perhaps there is too much undue bitterness in her comment. But as with yesterday’s post, you can definitely understand how fame can lose its luster once the initial euphoria has worn off.