by Jim McMahon with Bob Verdi
Since the Chicago Bears won this year’s Super Bowl, they have become the National Football League’s literary lions. Strangely there are no new books by or about the best Bear player, Walter Payton. Those desperate for insights into the team, however, can turn to these three books. Singletary, the Bears’ imposing defensive captain, has written the most thoughtful and absorbing of the three (Contemporary, $16.95). Helped by Keteyian, a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED writer-reporter, he says his hardscrabble beginnings as the son of a construction contractor inspired him to work twice as hard as the next guy. He comes across as a dedicated, religious and reflective man, who happens to turn into a vicious animal on the field. McMahon’s story (Warner, $16.95) is by far the fastest, funniest read. The jaunty quarterback tosses jibes at his parents, the press and other pet peeves, while praising his wife and kids, most of his team-mates and beer. He portrays himself as a decent fellow bent on enjoying life. Ditto’s volume (Bonus Books, $16.95) is heavy going unless you’re a dyed-in-the-fur Bear fan. The coach, usually a notorious scowler, says something nice about everybody, and his insights are pedestrian, as in “every underdog in society relates to [William] Perry and maybe every person who is a little overweight.” McMahon may be right when he says, in describing Ditka’s pregame speeches, “Mike has to get some new material.” Both McMahon’s co-author, Verdi, and Ditka’s ghost, Pierson, are Chicago Tribune staffers.