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“This masterpiece of dogged and loving reporting will astonish you and touch your heart. The struggles and quest for redemption of football star Jackie Wallace make for a fall-from-grace tale that’s both unsettling and uplifting.”—Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs and Leonardo da Vinci
The heartbreaking, timeless, and redemptive story of the transformative friendship binding a fallen-from-grace NFL player and a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist who meet on the streets of New Orleans, offering a rare glimpse into the precarious world of homelessness and the lingering impact of systemic racism and poverty on the lives of NOLA’s citizens.
In 1990, while covering a story about homelessness for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Ted Jackson encountered a drug addict sleeping under a bridge. After snapping a photo, Jackson woke the man. Pointing to the daily newspaper by his feet, the homeless stranger looked the photojournalist in the eye and said, “You ought to do a story about me.” When Ted asked why, he was stunned by the answer. “Because, I’ve played in three Super Bowls.”
That chance meeting was the start of Ted’s thirty-year relationship with Jackie Wallace, a former NFL star who rose to the pinnacle of fame and fortune, only to crash and lose it all. Getting to know Jackie, Ted learned the details of his life, and how he spiraled into the “vortex of darkness” that left him addicted and living on the streets of New Orleans.
Ted chronicles Jackie's life from his teenage years in New Orleans through college and the NFL to the end of his pro career and the untimely death of his mother—devastating events that led him into addiction and homelessness. Throughout, Ted pays tribute to the enduring friendship he shares with this man he has come to know and also look at as an inspiration. But Ted is not naïve; he speaks frankly about the vulnerability of such a relationship: Can a man like Jackie recover, or is he destined to roam the streets until his end?
Tragic and triumphant, inspiring and unexpected, You Ought to Do a Story About Me offers a rare glimpse into the precarious world of homelessness and the lingering impact of systemic racism and poverty on the lives of NOLA’s citizens. Lyrical and evocative, Ted's account is pure, singular, and ambitious—a timeless tale about loss, redemption, and hope in their multifarious forms.
“This book will melt your heart. The story of Jackie Wallace is an unforgettable tale of hope, grace, and the miracle of the human spirit. Ted Jackson writes with searing honesty and deep love for a troubled man who started as his subject and became his lifelong friend.”—Jonathan Eig, bestselling author of Ali: A Life and Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig