Cover Image: You Ought to Do a Story About Me

You Ought to Do a Story About Me

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Member Reviews

Wow! Such a heart-wrenching story about the story of Jackie Wallace and his life as an former NFL player and as a long-time crack cocaine addict. This story is more than just addiction and football, but about friendship, redemption, forgiveness, sacrifice, compassion, and love. 

Jackie Wallace’s story is not unusual or uncommon unfortunately, but I definitely was truly engrossed in his story because I had such an emotional pull on my heart-strings while reading this book.  I personally do not know anyone anymore who has been strung out on drugs, but I did know some people.  Seeing them in sad states of disarray and mania was scary, shocking, and sadly expected. What drugs do to a person is just utterly devastating, and being a friend of a family member seeing their demise with their struggle with drugs is gut-wrenching and horrible to endure. Reading this book makes me understand how people continually go back to drugs even though they logically know it’s no good for them. The book explains how the body pulls them to the drug even knowing all the damage it will cause. It’s heart-breaking to understand how relapses work, how sobriety is tenuous and how one slip can cause a sheer decline into obscurity in a nanosecond. 

The book was written by a photojournalist, and not from an investigative journalist standpoint. However, this book will keep you engrossed from start to finish learning about the man, Jackie Wallace. This book is documenting a photographer’s journey after meeting and befriending the once legendary Jackie Wallace, who he found in 1990, homeless and living near a highway ramp wrapped in plastic trying to shield himself from the elements of the New Orleans weather.  

The book details Jackie’s life from the time he was a young man to present day, and how the author, Ted Jackson and Jackie formed a friendship and accountability relationship once Jackie allowed Ted into his life. We learn about the time when Jackie was in high school, college, and the NFL, and how football dominated his life. We see how his life practically crumbles to nothing once he is waived from his last NFL team, and how the transition from the NFL was something many players are unprepared to deal with. As readers, we are also taught some historical facts about race, the political climate during the 60’s and 70’s, and also the celebrity life many NFL players live during their heydays. Unfortunately for Jackie and many other former NFL players, the transition out of the NFL is unexpected, and many men are left stranded, penniless, jobless, riddled with health issues, and for many, uneducated in the ways of getting back on their feet. Today’s NFL seems to have better transitions and counseling in place, but for men in Jackie’s time, there was nothing to help them move on with their lives.  These men were stuck in a time warp, living off the ‘good ole days’ with no help for the hard times to come assimilating back into civilian life. 

Many parts of this book appealed to me. I didn’t necessarily enjoy the sports statistics and facts about football because the writing was not very engaging in those areas, seeing that this isn’t written by a sports journalist, but I was fascinated in the life of Jackie and how his family and friends have continued to surround him and love him no matter his status. 

As a Christian, for both Ted and Jackie, it was very refreshing to know that God is doing the work in both of their lives and allowing us, as readers, to see that God is real. Jackie should have been dead a long time ago, but somehow, God has kept him alive thus far to help him and others reconcile with family, friends, loved ones who deal with this sick disease of addiction. 

Another aspect that I appreciated was learning about Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and how the NFL has been handling this known issue for the sport. I really hope that more research is done on this condition because the impact of having the right information and treatment can save many past, present, and future players from the negative impacts this condition has on the health and well-being of these highly talented athletes. 

You Ought To Do a Story About Me is gripping, heart-wrenching, frustrating, heart-warming, hopeful, and full of emotional rollercoasters. This book will make you pray for Jackie’s safety and his health. I googled everything I could about Jackie and prayed that he was still alive before I finished reading this book.  A drug addicts life is not glamorous or fun. It is trauma everyday. A never-ending cycle. It is death. The failures and successes Jackie has in these 28 years since Ted found him will leave you exhausted, teary-eyed, and nervous. This book will leave you wondering, “Where is Jackie Wallace?” I could not put this book down after the first 30% of the book because I just had to know what was happening to Jackie. There is genuine concern for Jackie, as a friend, as a brother, as a teammate, and you feel everything Ted feels as you read this book. I highly recommend this book. 4.5 stars. 

Thank you to HarperCollins (Dey Street Books) and Ted Jackson for providing me with this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. Full review can found in link in bio.
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It is not unusual for professional athletes to encounter hard times after their playing careers end. This book that tells the story of Jackie Wallace, a former NFL defensive back with the Minnesota Vikings, Baltimore Colts and Los Angeles Rams is a little different in the telling of the story of former star athlete who encounters tough times, recovers and falls back again in a seemingly never-ending cycle.

What makes this story about Wallace written by photojournalist Ted Jackson different is that Jackson shows genuine concern for Wallace long after finding him sleeping under a highway overpass in New Orleans in 1990. Those photos along with the story written by another journalist brought attention to Wallace’s plight. Some would have just left the story there, but not Jackson.  For more than twenty-five years, Jackson would attempt to reach Wallace to find out what he is doing, how is his recovery from drug addiction going and if he has any future plans.  Sometimes the reunion between the two men was heartwarming, other times it was heart-wrenching as Wallace fell into the pattern of recovery and remission back into drug addiction.  

Wallace’s football career is recapped in nice fashion, especially when one considers that Jackson isn’t a sportswriter.  Wallace was originally a quarterback, but switched to defensive back when it was realized he had a better chance to obtain a football scholarship at that position, which was awarded to him by the University of Arizona.  From there, he spent seven years in the NFL and played in three Super Bowls between 1973 and 1980.  However, that isn’t the main subject of the book as the reader is taken along the journey Jackson takes to follow Wallace after that chance encounter in New Orleans.  

Speaking of that city, there is plenty of material on New Orleans history, culture and politics as well as Jackson worked many years for the city’s daily newspaper.  Everything from the Jim Crow era to Hurricane Katrina is covered and while long, it does play an important part in the book to frame the story of Wallace, who despite seeming to have recovered from his addiction and found a good life in Baltimore in the early 2000’s, kept slipping and ended up back in New Orleans. 

Through the entire time, Jackson paints a tough but sympathetic portrait of Wallace, neither criticizing him too much nor attempting to make the reader feel sorry for him.  It is just a very good story of addiction, recovery and friendship that will keep readers engrossed.  One doesn’t have to be a football fan or remember Jackie Wallace’s career to enjoy this book. 

I wish to thank Dey Street Books for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I really enjoyed Ted Jackson's book "You Ought to Do a Story About Me."  The book revolves around Jackson's reporting on a former NFL player, Jackie Wallace, whom Jackson finds homeless and suffering from addiction while taking photographs. Aside from the actual writing, the book is interspersed with a series of excellent photographs of Jackie Wallace and people Jackson interviews or sees throughout New Orleans.  I appreciate how Jackson speaks about Wallace from a sense of genuine care and interest vs. Wallace being merely a project and someone Jackson needs to save. Wallace's story uncovers a side of football that should gain more attention - the repercussions of traumatic brain injury and what life is like for former football stars when they are finished playing professionally. I also really enjoyed reading about New Orleans history, politics, and culture and how this weaves into Wallace's story and the stories of the people Jackson meets in his decades as a New Orleans reporter. I highly recommend this book for many reasons.
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