Keyshawn Johnson and Shelley Smith - Just Give Me the Damn Ball!: The Fast Times and Hard Knocks of an NFL Rookie

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Just Give Keyshawn The Damn Ball Already

Jul 30, 2002
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:hilarious, gives you an inside look into an NFL team's season, easy to read

Cons:content doesn't suit everyone, written on a 5th grade level, inconsistent type font

The Bottom Line: If you've been watching Sports Center since the mid-90's, you'll get a good laugh. Otherwise, stay away or else you might not understand what the point is.


An Outspoken NFL Player Wrote A Book

In 1996 a wide receiver by the name of Keyshawn Johnson was drafted first overall by the New York Jets. While at the University of Southern California or USC, he almost single-handedly guided his team to a Rose Bowl victory over Northwestern. He was widely regarded as the best football player coming out of college. He was also known for expressing whatever he thinks whenever he wants about whatever he wants regardless of the consequences or repercussions. During his first season in the NFL, he was part of a team that went 1-15. Also that season he played in 14 games in which he only started 11. This is his story, told through his own words, about his experiences throughout his first season in the NFL.


The Big Three: Kotite, Chrebet, and of course Keyshawn

The book is evenly sectioned into chapters. Each chapter represents either a week out of the season, except for training camp. Throughout the book Keyshawn talks candidly about many different conflicts he faced. One of these situations was his relationship with fellow rookie wide receiver Wayne Chrebet. A short, white, wide receiver who came out of the small college of Hofstra, Wayne worked hard during training camp in order to make up for his lack of talent. Despite this, Keyshawn still had little respect for him simply because he wasn't as gifted and did not go to a big time football college. At the beginning of the book, Keyshawn simply shows just a lack of respect for Wayne. However, this lack of respect turns to jealousy and internal rage when Wayne's hard work pays off and earns him a starting position in favor of Keyshawn.

It is widely considered by pro football fans that the Jets' 1-15 season in 1996 was the result of poor coaching by head coach Rich Kotite. Keyshawn too, believes that Kotite is the cause for such a bad season. In the book, he describes how Kotite made horrible coaching mistakes throughout the season. He also says that if Kotite had used him more in games instead of starting Chrebet, the team would have done much better. Towards the end of the book, as rumors were swirling about highly successful head coach Bill Parcells being hired at head coach of the Jets at the conclusion of the season, Keyshawn begins to second guess the decisions of Kotite based on what Keyshawn thought Bill Parcells would do.

Other details talked about in the book revolve around Keyshawn himself. Keyshawn frequently wonders about when he'll score his first touchdown. He also shows his frustration wondering how the team is going to lose if they’re ahead late in the game.


Now I Know What Keyshawn Learned In College

From a literary standpoint, this book is trash. There's nothing insightful about the book. It's not creatively written. In fact, a 5th grader with a good proofreader could have probably written a book of the same quality. The book itself is clear and easy to understand. It seems as if Keyshawn spoke into a tape recorder over the course of the 1996 season; then took it to a professional to have it written up, proofread and reworded in certain areas to add clarity. You will probably not feel like a better person for reading a book of this quality.

In the same respect, it does give the book a little more honesty and credibility. Given all the money professional sports teams spend towards public relations for their players, this book is the last thing they want to see. Players rarely talk this candidly and openly about how they feel in such depth. Even though the book makes Keyshawn look like a selfish jerk, it's honest. It's one of those books that when you read it you'll cringe and say to yourself, "He didn't say that did he? Why on earth possessed him to say that?" In this age of reality TV, this is a great example of a reality book. He tries to twist the truth around, but does such a bad job that it's almost like having a hidden camera and microphone hooked up to his brain.

Finally, whoever typed up this book really deserves to be shot. All throughout the book, there are words and phrases that use larger type fonts than the other text. My guess, based on reading what they are, they serve to point out significant words and phrases in the book. If Keyshawn is making a point or just poking fun at someone, a key word or phrase appears as larger than the surrounding text. What is the point of this? Is it trying to belittle us? This has no place for people who are reading this for content. If they want to point out quotable areas for the media and other people, why not just put in an appendix at the end. I frequently found myself stumbling throughout the book solely because of this feature.


What's The Inside Joke?

Unless you've watched ESPN's Sports Center regularly since the mid-90's, then this book is just some poorly written 150 page rant about some football player and his miserable rookie season. However, this book also is something that the sports media has used to define who Keyshawn is. Headlines involving Keyshawn frequently refer to the title of this book. Things that he has said about other players, in particular Wayne Chrebet, have fueled sports stories after the book's release. The book also gives perspective on an incident that happened just a couple seasons ago. Keyshawn then no longer played for the Jets, while Chrebet stayed on with the team. Keyshawn's new team was scheduled to play the Jets in the middle of the season. Before the game when asked about Chrebet, he said that Chrebet was a flashlight compared to his own star status and talent. That game, Keyshawn only caught just one ball and Chrebet scored the winning touchdown. This would have been an interesting sports story without the book, but this book does give an incident like this more perspective and insight.


What Did I Think?

I got a kick out of this book. I bought it on ebay for $1 and found it hilarious and entertaining. In previous reviews I have rated products high that I personally like while acknowledging their limited demographic of interest. I cannot do this for this book. Although people like me will get a good laugh out of this book and certainly get their money's worth if they can find it cheap on ebay, this is not a good book at all. I was annoyed at the typeface. I didn't feel good after finishing the book, rather I felt as if I just watch an entire A-team marathon thinking, "I just lost 5 hours of my life and I can't get it back again." To any people who read for pleasure, you'll want to avoid this book. If you do end up reading it, you might have to work your way back to the level at which you're reading again. NFL fanatics like me are a sick, masochistic bunch. If we can't lower out intelligence by getting smashed in the mouth (see my review on the NFL Feel The Power CD: http://www.epinions.com/content_70925979268), we'll find a way of lowering it through reading.


Recommend this product? No


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