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Book Review: Men With Balls – The Professional Athlete’s Handbook by Drew Magary

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There are numerous signs a part-time blogger has made it. Maybe they are able to quit their job and be a full-time basementeer. Maybe they scoop the mainstream media on a story that gets talked about for months to come. And maybe they just write a book about football and dick jokes.

Drew Magary? Congratulations, you're the last of the three!

Known on the popular NFL humor blog Kissing Suzy Kolber by the alias "Big Daddy Drew," Magary's spine-bound debut, Men With Balls has a clever premise. It's a handbook written for new athletes, outlining how to behave and act in all sorts of situations. The sweet part about this book is you don't have to be an athlete to purchase it.

If you're familiar with Magary's work on KSK or Deadspin, you'll probably be in love with this book. His mixture of profane lucidity and humbling anecdotes (although I probably could have done without his story about his American Pie-type rendezvous with a piece of fruit) is right on par with his everyday blogging. But that just encompasses 37 of you. For everyone else, it might depend on your sensitivity to tongue-in-cheek racial and sexist humor, as well as lewdness. If you can get past that, you're well on your way to a bitingly hilarious journey.

From chapter to chapter, the reader becomes the athlete who progresses through his career. The "lessons" include: Trash Talk 101, interacting with owners and coaches, responding to unruly fans, who to put in your entourage, what products to endorse, how to handle baby mommas, what crimes are and aren't acceptable to commit, how to trick out your home, and finally, when it's time to retire. (Spoiler! You should never retire.)

One of the funniest sections might be "how to make love like a pro," which one quickly discovers is an excuse to name sex positions after famous athletes. ("The Kobe Bryant: Bend partner over couch or credenza. Finish. Flee Colorado.") The money shot comes in the form of crudely drawn naughty illustrations. For a frame of reference, the section was quite reminiscent of John Stewart's America: The Book page with the disrobed Supreme Court justices.

But it's not a perfect book. Some of the parts drag for a while. Channeling one of his trademarked KSK routines, the celebrity fake soliloquy, Magary writes fake essays in the character of sports figures like Patriots coach Bill Belichick and basketball icon Charles Barkley. But unlike his other timely parodies of Wade Phillips and Jerry Jones, the soliloquies in the book don't have the same punch. Maybe it's because they were generic and didn't pertain to a specific event in sports. Maybe it's because they were inset with the chapters much like those blue boxes in our third grade social studies books. And nobody ever read those. So maybe you can just ignore them and move on with the engaging parts. They're clearly marked with pretty borders.

In the end, Men With Balls finds a niche not exactly filled anywhere else. The premise and delivery is something badly needed in a world where sports are sometimes taken rather seriously. If you discover a funnier book about football this year, you somehow got ahold of Eli Manning's diary.

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