|THE END OF AUTUMN: Reflections on my life in football
by Michael Oriard
Mike was the only walk-on in the history of Notre Dame football to become a starter, be elected team captain and chosen for the All-American team. He was center for both Terry Hanratty and Joe Theismann and was coached by Ara Parseghian. Mike was also chosen as a Rhodes scholar in his senior year. He was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs and played in the NFL for four seasons. Mike earned his Ph.D. at Stanford and is a professor of English at Oregon State
Synopsis: The End of Autumn examines the motives and pressures, the gains and rewards of college and professional football and arrives at a reaffirming look at the game and its effects on a young man. It also provides an insider's view on legendary personalities Ara Parseghian and Rocky Bleier, and gives the inside scoop on such events as players' strikes, all-star games, and training camp.
Part Two of the book (pages 57-155) chronicles Mike's years at Notre Dame and will be of special interest to Irish fans. Mike talks about his personal motives and motivations for going to Notre Dame, his determination to be a part of the team, the pep rallies, practices and games that make up the life of a Notre Dame player. Fascinating reading. This book is highly recommended.
The author: Michael Oriard spent four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and concluded his pro football career with the Hamilton, Ontario, Tiger-Cats. After his retirement, he completed work on his Ph.D. at Stanford University. He now teaches English at Oregon State, where he lives with his wife and family.
A word from the author:
"The End of Autumn began with a tragedy: my KC Chief teammate Jim Tyrer's suicide in 1980. Stunned by the account in my local paper, I wrote a eulogy to Jim on the theme of the ex-athlete whose life after sports could not sustain him, and sent it to the New York Times. The Times piece was read by an editor at Doubleday, who wrote me to ask if I was writing a book along this line. I wasn't, but I certainly was able to propose one. Doubleday liked the idea, and the book appeared in 1982.
The idea, agreed on by me and my editor, was a football memoir not by a superstar but by an ordinary player, one that football fans who had played the game in grade school and high school could relate to. The elegiac perspective-football as a game played in youth, the game of autumn coming to an end-derived naturally from the event that precipitated my writing the book, Jim Tyrer's suicide. Written in 1980-81, ten years after leaving Notre Dame, The End of Autumn became an occasion for looking back on my years in South Bend to try to recreate the experience of playing football in the most storied program in the country. On the one hand, I had virtually a fairytale experience at ND, going from walk-on to offensive captain. But it was also a very ordinary experience, full of the hopes and fears of an ordinary kid from Spokane, Washington, not a blue chipper recruited by the major football programs since 9th grade. I tried to capture both aspects in my book. And I knew that I had been the beneficiary of good fortune over the course of my football career, both in my success-hard work, together with some talent, is not enough; it takes luck, too-and in playing as long as I did without suffering serious physical or psychological harm. Football was very good to me, but it has not been so good to everyone. The End of Autumn is my story of that fortunate experience, that climaxed at Notre Dame where a skinny kid from Spokane played out childhood dreams."
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