Having already turned Billy Beane into a household name/divisive figure beyond that of a mere baseball GM, “Moneyball” author Michael Lewis turns his attentions to Texas Tech offensive guru/head coach Mike Leach (above, middle) in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine.
Despite the immodest Lewis calling such a gridiron profile “virgin territory” (cue up sound effects of several dozen football scribes throwing beer bottles at the wall), it’s well worth checking out.
“Thinking man’s football” is a bit like “classy stripper”: if the adjective modifies the noun too energetically, it undermines the nature of the thing. “Football’s the most violent sport,” Leach says. “And because of that, the most intense and emotional.” Truth is, he loves the violence. (“Aw, yeah, the violence is awesome. That’s the best part.”) Back in the early 1980’s, when he was a student at B.Y.U., he spotted a poster for a seminar, “Violence in American Sports.” It was given by a visiting professor who bemoaned the influence of football on the American mind. To dramatize the point, the professor played a video of especially shocking blows delivered in college and pro football. “It had all the great hits in football you remembered and wanted to see again,” Leach recalls. “Word got around campus that this guy had this great tape, and the place was jammed. Everybody was cheering the hits. I went twice.”