Vince Papale, George Plimpton, and ...Stefan Fatsis

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

The trouble with participatory journalism is that you have to... er.... participate. Witness Emily Yoffe and the beauty pageant. Or Bill Buford and, er, the pig in the elevator. (Yes, you should read that book. Right now.) It's even tougher when your subject is... THE NFL. Wall Street Journal reporter Stefen Fatsis took on the gridiron — which is just as terrifying as it sounds. But contrary to what you may have thought — he came away with both bruises AND wisdom; ala the great Paper Lion. Questions? Post 'em here.

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Some 30 years ago, the Washington Redskins held an open try-out camp at ISU in Pocatello, near where I live. Although I was 30 at the time and had lost my college ball fitness, I went over and walked-on. I lasted through the morning and afternoon sessions but wasn't asked back for the second day. Certainly the nature of the contact had not changed but the younger kids were a lot bigger than I remembered. I wasn't all that disappointed because at least I had tried my hand at it. Plimpton's book had been something of an inspiration, and now I have an indelible memory and a good anecdote.

Sent by Bryan Tarantola | 3:18 PM | 7-15-2008

Stefan Fatsis finally made me get it! I'm a lifelong sportless dork, but when Fatsis described the stress of making a kick or completing a play, I knew that some Denver Broncos player somehow understood how it felt to drag yourself through a research paper when your scholarly life is on the line. Next time I'm in the British Library manuscripts room, maybe I'll wear a jersey under my limp cardigan. Thanks NPR and TOTN for making my rainy day in London!

Sent by Alexandra Marraccini | 8:17 PM | 7-15-2008