What Happens after the Season Is over? Ten Years Later: An In-Depth Look at College Football Players at Florida State University

Article excerpt

BATTLE'S END: A SEMINOLE FOOTBALL TEAM REVISITED

By Caroline Alexander

Alfred A. Knopf

220 pp., $23

The athletes who compete in the Super Bowl represent an elite within an elite. Those who make it to that coveted game come from the somewhat larger pool of talent that made it onto a National Football League roster. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of other young men had that dream, but never saw it fulfilled.

This book is about a few of those NFL wannabes - promising young players recruited to Florida State University's Seminole squad in the early 1980s. High school athletes good enough to be wooed by a football powerhouse like FSU may have reasonable hopes for a pro career, but life usually lands them elsewhere, with regrets that their college years yielded little in the way of academic or intellectual benefits.

Caroline Alexander chronicles those regrets, and more. She had gotten to know these men when they were starry-eyed lower classmen and she was their English tutor, hired by the university to help them pass academic muster. What emerges from her extensive interviews 10 years later are individuals who defy the "dumb jock" stereotypes. They recognize how ill-prepared they were to do college work, how their motivations were skewed by the deception that they could ride their football skills to success, and how important it is to give their own kids a more realistic view of life. Their eventual careers ranged from prison guard to car salesmen to convicted criminal to (yes, one made it) NFL wide receiver.

Take Greg Allen, one of the more athletically gifted among Alexander's band of Seminoles. He made it to the pros for a short stint as a running back, but found the life there didn't agree with him and gravitated, perhaps inevitably, back to his small-town Florida birthplace. …