Jeff Pearlman

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The final game

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Emmett (blue shorts) goes in for the pull.

Emmett Pearlman, Raiders defensive back, announced his retirement from flag football today, shortly after his team was eliminated with a first-round playoff loss to the Patriots. “I’m sad,” he said afterward. “But what’s a guy gonna do? Flag ends after eighth grade. I’m in eighth grade.”

Pearlman wraps the six-game season with approximately 14 flag pulls and two interceptions—both in a Week 3 victory over the Seahawks. As he walked off the field for the final time, he reflected on a five-year, five-team career that included a 10-game stint as a starting quarterback back during his sophomore run with Dallas. “I liked playing quarterback,” he said. “It was fun.”

This year, Pearlman admitted, had its ups and downs—mainly downs. The coach, a well-intended man who did his best, rarely inserted Emmett on offense, and in the playoff setback only had him play approximately 60 percent of the plays on defense. As a result, Pearlman found himself roaming the sidelines, looking into the stands, bored, thirsty and seemingly a tad constipated. “I had to poop,” he said.

In retirement, Pearlman plans to indulge in his passions—bass fishing, Slurpee mixing and licking telephone poles that smell of lavender.

“It was fun,” he said, a tear streaming down his right cheek. “But I’m hungry.”

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life