JEFF PEARLMAN

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

Lou Canellis, Christian Science Monitor and the tone of a city

Last October, right before Sweetness hit stores, a man named Lou Canellis took me to the woodshed.

I’d never heard of Canellis, the sports anchor for Chicago’s Fox affiliate. But as soon as Sports Illustrated excerpted a portion of my book, Canellis questioned my motives and my decency, referred to me as shameful and asked why I wasn’t giving the money from my book to the Payton family.

This, of course, took place before Canellis had had a chance to read Sweetness.

Honestly, I’m pretty much over this. I’ve started a new project, I’ve moved on, I think about Sweetness less and less and less with each passing day. But I was furious with Canellis at the time and, four months later, I remain angry. Why? Because he was, I believe, the first. The first to lead this odd anti-Jeff Pearlman thing among Chicagoans. The first to ignorantly decry a book’s content and, even worse, an author’s intent. I’ve also never understood why a sports anchor, whose main job is to report the news, went out of his way to editorialize. Whether Canellis liked or loathed the book, it seems awfully unprofessional.

Of course, many in the Windy City’s media followed. Canellis is a veteran, and once he pounced, it seems others—also, without having read the book—fely comfortable doing so, too. Having spent so much time on the project, it hurt. Actually, it scarred. Deeply.

Of course, sometimes good comes, too. The most recent Christian Science Monitor includes a review of Sweetness. The writer, Ross Atkin, calls it “one of the most engaging, thoroughly researched, and frank football books imaginable. As a powerful, well-told, and tragic story, it ranks alongside Jane Leavey’s 2010 blockbuster about Mickey Mantle, “The Last Boy.”

I know … I know—I’ve said in the past reviews don’t really matter. Well, in this case, they do.

In this case, I’ve needed all the support I could muster.