A Review of ‘Playing Hurt’ by John U. Bacon

A Review of ‘Playing Hurt’ by John U. Bacon

Submitted by Ira on September 20th, 2017 at 8:00 AM

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[Ed-S: Bacon’s latest book is a personal memoir of John Saunders, and Saunders’ lifelong battle with depression. Ira Weintraub (@michiganinsider), co-host of WTKA The Ticket’s flagship, The Michigan Insider, offered to review it since he read it faster than I could.

Playing Hurt: My Journey from Despair to Hope by John Saunders, is available from Amazon in hardcover, Kindle, or Audiobook format, or you can get a copy from the publisher directly. Take it away Ira:

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Let me start by making a few things very clear: John U Bacon is my friend, and I think he’s a terrific writer. So, yes, I am biased in his favor. But that did not influence my opinion of Bacon’s newest book, “Playing Hurt: My Journey from Despair to Hope,” which he wrote with his friend and long-time ESPN broadcaster John Saunders.

Let’s make one other point very clear – this is not a Michigan book, even though you are reading this review on a Michigan site. There are Michigan references, stories and anecdotes in “Playing Hurt.” But this is not a Michigan book. And, no, this is not a sports book, although sports is a big part of Saunders’ life story.

So what kind of book is it? It’s a life-lessons book. It’s a story of overcoming a myriad of obstacles and the ability to endure just about everything the world and society can throw at you. It is also the best book in the John U Bacon literary collection.

[Hit the JUMP for…an interview with Will Heininger?!?]

Falling Backward, an Excerpt from Playing Hurt by John U. Bacon

Falling Backward, an Excerpt from Playing Hurt by John U. Bacon

Submitted by Seth on September 12th, 2017 at 10:00 AM

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Bacon’s latest book is out and as you well know he’s mandatory reading around here. This one is a very personal memoir he did with John Saunders, the well-known ESPN personality, on Saunders’ lifelong battle with depression. The childhood victim of all kinds of abuse, Saunders tough-guy’d for a quarter century before the interior damage nearly brought down the whole giant man. As an adult he finally decided to face those demons. But when you’re carrying that kind of devil, it never goes without a fight.

Playing Hurt: My Journey from Despair to Hope by John Saunders, is available from Amazon in hardcover, Kindle, or Audiobook format, or you can get a copy from the publisher directly.

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Chapter 26: Falling Backward

Saturday, September 10, 2011, was a beautiful fall day.

A car picked me up at my home for the drive to ESPN headquarters in Bristol, CT. When I joined the network in 1986, the entire ESPN “empire” consisted of a single building that could house all one hundred or so employees. That was all we needed to produce SportsCenter, NHL, and CFL games – which is all we had. Today, ESPN has deals with Major League Baseball, the NBA, and the NFL, more than 5,000 employees, and offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, Hong Kong, Toronto, and South America, not to mention the sprawling campus in Bristol, which now looks more like a modern college campus than a TV network.

I was entering my 35th season in broadcasting, my 25th at ESPN, my 20th hosting ABC College Football, and my 10th season hosting “The Sports Reporters,” which might be my favorite show. It’s a good job. Scratch that. It’s a dream job.

Our oldest daughter Aleah had just graduated from Fordham University a few months earlier, and was considering law school. Our younger daughter Jenna had just enrolled at my alma mater, Ryerson University in Toronto. By any objective measure, I had a pretty good life – particularly for a guy who was raised by an abusive, deadbeat dad.

But I was just minutes away from almost losing it all.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the excerpt]