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Day: February 6, 2016

“NFL Confidential: True Confessions from the Gutter of Football” by Johnny Anonymous


NFL Confidential: True Confessions from the Gutter of Football” by Johnny Anonymous

c.2016, Dey St.
$26.99 / $33.50 Canada
241 pages


Three points!  That’s all your team needs to win. Can they make it?

You’re doing your part: you’re wearing your lucky shirt and hat. A stuffed mascot is nearby, the team logo hangs on the wall, and you had coffee this morning in the Official Team Mug. You’re doing everything you can for a win but, as in the new book “NFL Confidential” by Johnny Anonymous, other forces are afield.

Johnny Anonymous came to football later than most boys.

Looking to fill a void after his mother died, he joined his high school team as a freshman. Neither he nor his father knew a thing about football but Anonymous learned quickly, just as he learned that he had talent for the game.

“Back in high school, football was fun,” he says, but in college, “it was a full-time job.” College ball was serious, both mentally and physically; it was also where Anonymous began to understand what football would do to his brain and body. He suffered injuries playing college ball and he considered quitting, but going pro was a chance to “make a… ton of money.”

He was cut from his first pro team, through no fault of his own. He started as third-string at his second team and soon decided that standing on the sidelines was an easy way to make a living – but then his teammates started getting injured.

They were out. Anonymous was in, at least for awhile.

He tried to bring fun back into the game. He tried to remember that it was a game, “not World War III,” and he endured hassle from his coach and from fans. He repeatedly lost, then found, the anger that made him good at playing offense, and he ate constantly to maintain the weight the coaches unofficially said he had to have. He hurt everywhere, often, until his teammates returned from their injuries and Anonymous stepped back because that’s what players do.

“… this isn’t a fairy tale,” he says. “This isn’t a Hollywood story. This isn’t a happy ending.

This is the NFL.”

There’s a reason why author Johnny Anonymous has changed “N ames , timeline, details, the usual” in this book. “Go ahead, try” to figure out who he is. I’m sure the League would like to know, too, because “NFL Confidential” is TNT on paper.

But here’s the rub: it’s easy to wonder if Anonymous is hiding behind a pseudonym in order to embellish the truth; because this book is funny, very entertaining, and more than a little smart-alecky, readers may be tempted to dismiss his words. It would be likewise easy to say that it’s just a profanity-laced, updated North Dallas Forty, until you consider that what Anonymous describes seems to be on display, to a greater or lesser degree, each August-through-February: injuries, mental abuse, domestic issues, substance abuse, and more.

So… truth?  Or just a good story?  You’ll have your theories but either way, I think you’ll love this book. For die-hard fans of the ol’ pigskin, “NFL Confidential” is a big win.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.

The right time for Caillier

Keizer First Citizen Mark Caillier (center) gets a hug from former First Citizen JoAnne Beilke (right) as Lore Christopher looks on Jan. 23. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Keizer First Citizen Mark Caillier (center) gets a hug from former First Citizen JoAnne Beilke (right) as Lore Christopher looks on Jan. 23. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Of the Keizertimes

Does anybody really know what time it is?

Hopefully the Cailliers do.

Mark and Kris Caillier have a large collection of clocks in their Keizer home. Let’s just say it is 20-plus.

So many clocks, in fact, what do you do with one more?

Mark got a clock at the Jan. 23 Keizer First Citizen and Awards Banquet as he was bestowed with the 2015 Keizer First Citizen award. It matches the clock he received two years earlier after being named the 2013 President’s Award recipient.

“It’s the most important clock in the house, followed closely by the President’s Award one which I was honored with a couple of years ago,” Mark said. “My wife is really into clocks. If you don’t have 20 or 30 clocks in your house, what the heck?”

Mark’s laugh had barely subsided when he was asked where this newest clock would be displayed.

“In his office,” Kris answered immediately as more laughter broke out.

Mark has long been of service to his community. He retired in 2003 after 29 years with the Salem Police Department. He served on the Keizer City Council for four years, has led clean-up efforts at the Keizer Civic Center, currently serves as president of the Greater Gubser Neighborhood Association and leads the Claggett Creek Watershed Council.

What clinched the award, however, was Mark serving as project manager for the Big Toy play structure project, completed last June at Keizer Rapids Park.

Mark was introduced by former mayor Lore Christopher, who won the First Citizen Award a year before and had all previous recipients stand in front of the stage.

“Lucky for us, this individual can’t learn to say no and they won’t take no for an answer when they are working for our community,” Christopher said. “This recognition has been a long time coming and I am thrilled that I get to be the one to present the award.”

Mark noted getting public notoriety for good deeds goes against his mindset.

“In my previous life as a police officer, one of the things you want to do is not gain public attention,” he said. “It’s a little difficult for me to get noted for stuff like this.”

Mark referenced the people standing in front of the stage.

“The great thing about this is you are following so many great people,” he said. “I was looking at the list (of past winners) and I noticed at least 15 of the previous winners of this award worked on the Big Toy. When you volunteer, it’s nice to get a thank you once in a while. And this is an incredible thank you.”

Mark, who donned an orange Oregon State University hat on stage, referenced one of the past winners, 1985 First Citizen Phil Bay.

“It finally dawned on me: this community has classes on how to get you involved and lets you do things, learn new skills, use old skills and meet great people,” Mark said. “What it does is it links you permanently to doing things for the community for the next 30 years. I really appreciate the honor. I could not do it without my family, especially my wife of 42 years who has supported me. She deserves the award. I’ll let her have the award.”

Mark noted he has traveled internationally for work and has thus seen many communities.

“I have never, ever found a community that has as much cooperation (as Keizer),” he said. “Everyone always has the same thing in mind: what is best for Keizer? What is best for the Keizer kids? It’s not about what is best for me or what is best for a particular person, but what is best for the community? I guess that’s what Keizer is all about.”

Mark said he “didn’t have a clue” he was going to win the award.

“The first time I had a clue is when the light with the camera was at the table,” he said. “I thought, ‘That is a little strange.’ I’m a little slow on the uptake. As a trained observer, I did not do well.”

Mark noted the award meant a lot to him.

“It’s a huge thank you for a lot of things and a lot of people that have helped,” Mark said. “Apparently I’ve meant a lot to the community. It makes you feel good that people think enough about what you’ve done and want to thank us for it. I don’t do well with recognition, but I really appreciate the sentiment of the thank you.

“It was emotional,” he added. “You see all those (previous winners) and all that they’ve done, the standards are so high. For you to be accepted into that club, it makes you feel like there are other things we could do in this community so maybe it won’t be that hard. It really gives you a boost. Kris probably doesn’t like to hear that, but it does. It makes you think we can do a whole lot more than we’ve already done.”

Others can be as involved as this year’s First Citizen, though good luck trying to be involved in as many activities as him.

“Particularly in Keizer, it really is easy to help out or volunteer,” Mark said. “You meet a lot of great folks. You get to drive by and say we accomplished such and such. The projects I try to get involved in usually have some kind of community value and have some longevity. It’s not about the person or the recognition. We’re doing this beyond ourselves. The value is that the community needs it, appreciates it and thanks you for it.”