I picked up “Pride of the Lions,” the latest Joe biography.
It reminded me of a joke my friend made when I grabbed a new Dylan bio last year - “Hibbing, NYC, Woody, Newport, Je sus, Never-Ending Tour, what is left to say?” Yeah, yeah, Brooklyn, Lombardi, Brown, “Think and win”, Rip, Sue, Sophs in 1967, Grand Experiment, Nixon, Switzers and Sherrils, yadda yadda yadda.
And there wasn’t anything big and new in it; Inquirer writer Frank Fitzpatrick merely synthesized everything that is known and adds some nice perspective to it. The most fun was searching for copy-editing errors (a few) and factual errors (rare, like having Rutgers as a founding member of the Big East).
As for news, I think all I saw was the unsourced, stated-as-fact tale that it was Spanier and Curley who asked Joe to retire in the 2004 home visit. Maybe this is well known, but I always imagined it was Spanier and a trustee/confidant like Steve Garban. And that it was Bill Conlin who coined “The Grand Experiment.” I always thought that was Joe and Tarman in between Old Grandad’s in some polyester hotel room in Philly or Baltimore.
As for perspective, I never quite appreciated 1973. For me, inculcated into our tribe in the late-70s, 1973 was an instance of running roughshod over the Little Sisters of the Poor between periods of true greatness - the 68-69 team and the 80s teams playing against the best teams in the country. But Fitzpatrick makes a pretty good case that that year - with Joe turning down the then unthinkable million dollar offer from the Pats, Cappelletti’s Heisman speech, and Joe’s commencement address about keeping faith (as Vietnam wound down and Watergate heated up) - is what sealed the legend.
I’d say the conceit, not treated too ham fistedly, is that Joe’s appreciation of the Aeneid, and the mission/destiny/fate of Aeneas, is almost an identification, and that means Joe does not view retirement as an option. One does not retire from one’s destiny.
I should cut and paste this into Amazon’s reviews.