Jeff Gravley

GravelyphotoI Am Third was written by former Chicago Bears great Gale Sayers along with Al Silverman. If you have ever seen the movie “Brian’s Song,” this book was the inspiration for the movie. It’s a story about an ebony and ivory friendship that grew from football. Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo played the same position, running back, for the Chicago Bears. Sayers was a lightning quick star from Kansas. Piccolo plowed his way into the ACC record books at Wake Forest.

The book details how they became friends, sharing time together away from football. Piccolo was diagnosed with cancer which ended his football career but strengthened his bond with Sayers. I don’t know of anyone who has watched this movie or read this book and not shed a tear as Gale Sayers lost his best friend to cancer. I was drawn to the book by the title, I Am Third. What’s the significance? It comes from the priorities of Gale Sayers. The Lord is first, my friends are second and I am third.

I have a large collection of books written by John Feinstein which includes A Season on the Brink. One, he writes a lot about sports but more because of his writing style. Feinstein is a great storyteller.

He was given total access to a season with Indiana coach Bob Knight, one of the most successful and hot-headed coaches in college basketball. This was one of the first behind the scenes sports books that I can remember. Feinstein was there for every practice and expletive filled tirade that Coach Knight would unleash. Hall of Fame coach Al McGuire summed it up best. When he learned about Feinstein doing the book with Knight he said, ‘With all the time they are going to spend together, they won’t  be speaking to each other by March. My second prediction is that if John survives the season, he will have a terrific book on his hands.’

I don’t think that the author and former coach have spoken since the book was printed in 1985. But I totally agree with Coach Al, it is a terrific book watching a master coach work his craft.”

Jeff Gravley, Sports Anchor, WRAL-TV, and 2015 North Carolina Sportscaster of the Year

I Am Third book cover

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A Season on the Brink book cover

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