JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Peter Richmond

mollysims

Peter Richmond, one of the truly excellent writers of our era, has a book coming out on the old Oakland Raiders of Madden, Tatum, Snake, etc. It’s a fantastic read—had the chance to snag an early copy, and consumed the damn think like a hamburger.

Not that that’s the point of this post. Wanted to see if Peter has a blog. He does. And that’s where, under his bio section, I found this gem. Which is 100% true—and any writer worth his salt will say the same thing:

He has interviewed hundreds of celebrities, athletes and notable people, but has discovered that the guy you end up sitting next to at the bar in a Ruby Tuesday’s just off the interstate, next to the Marriott Courtyard, is usually every bit as fascinating as the famous people, although Paul Newman would prove the exception there. But come to think of it, Newman was exactly the kind of guy who’d want to watch a football game at a franchise restaurant bar off the interstate.

Do this gig long enough, you get asked, “What’s [FILL IN THE CELEB’S NAME] like?” at least, oh, 500 times per year. And the answer can almost always be pulled from the following list:

• A true dickhead.

• Narcissistic beyond belief.

• Shallow.

• Limited.

• Sheltered.

• Vacant.

• Banal.

Now, I’m, not talking about your run-of-the-mill non-superstar athletes or actors. The Sal Fasanos. The Marion Rosses. But, generally speaking, people become superstars by walling off outside distractions; by passing on that trip to, oh, Guam to take extra BP or do an interview with Entertainment Tonight. Derek Jeter is a pretty good example. If you wanna talk Yankee Stadium dimensions, there’s no one better. But if you itch for some political or social or musical insights, there ain’t much brewing.

As I write this, I think back to the early 2000s, when SI sent me on a Swimsuit Issue assignment with Molly Sims. She was a perfectly nice young woman with a fine career in front of her—but I just got the feeling she couldn’t look past the fact that she was Molly Sims, and surely Molly Sims was on the minds of everyone in attendance (truth is, most of us just wanted to fly fish). That’s the warped grip that fame has on people. Sort of an ugly truth.

Point is, I agree with Peter. Give me the barhop, the bookie, the CVS clerk, and I’ll give you a fine story.