Growing up in Florida in the 1960''s I can remember how all kids loved Steve Spurrier, glamorous star quarterback for the University of Florida. Nobody stood taller than the Gator''s No. 11, who became the epitome of a college football hero: good looking, talented and capable of leading miraculous comebacks.
Looking back, it''s funny how the memories of Spurrier''s playing carreer manage to get blurred. While doing the research for this book, I rediscovered the fact that Spurrier truly was the real deal as an athlete, which I belive has been obscured by his coaching success.
Spurrier didn''t get on by guile and intelligence as an athlte, though they were part of the package; he did it with athltic ability that he began to develop at an early age. Peeling through the archives of Spurrier''s life reaffirmed what he had been as an athlete and became the most enjoyable aspect of writing this biography.
I remembered many of Spurrier''s successes from myy childhood reading accounts written by Rom McEwen of the Tampa Tribune, a man I later work with while a sportswriter for that same newspaper. Other accounts of Spurrier''s wizardry were new to me; Spurrier won the Heisman Trophy, but I had never realized the depth of his success dating back to high school days - when he competed in everything and rarely lost at anything - to the miracle comebacks playing for Florida. Confidence and competitiveness have been his curse and his blessing.
Those special qualities complemented his athletic ability on one hand while casting him as an arrogant figure on the other.
Unlike many gifted athletes who excelled playing the games but couldn''t coach a lick, Spurrier took to coaching football games to another dimension, making him the exception.
There is no gray to Spurrier; the man is as black and white as they come, and he is passionate, which echoes over and over in what his friends and associateds say about him. Whether you consider spurrier an "evil" genius or simply a genius, you can''t dispute the fact that he is a football artist, given the creative things he has done as a coach.
Steve Spurrier has led an interesting life, and this is the story of that life.
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