Runt of the Litter
Football great Bo Eason's semi-autobiographical play is written and performed with compelling authenticity.
Eason, who uses the character name of Jack Henry in the play, was a small, only moderately talented, but driven young athlete, while his brother Tony Eason, the golden boy quarterback who led the Boston Patriots to the Super Bowl in 1986, was the embodiment of athletic perfection. Jack Henry recounts his commitment to becoming a pro football player at the age of nine, vowing to catch 1,000 passes every single day. As he notes with dry irony, he was the one who made his brother a star by making him throw those 1,000 passes every day.
The play begins in the locker room before a Super Bowl game that pits free safety Jack Henry's team against the team led by his famous, superstar brother. This confrontation is a fiction, since the Patriots faced the Chicago Bears that year while Bo languished with the also-ran Houston Oilers. But the Super Bowl is merely a dramatic construct that raises the stakes and heightens the tension. What Eason wants to expose is the culture, both in his household and in the country at large, that would turn an innocent 9-year-old boy into a 29-year-old man intent upon hurting and even maiming opposing players. For him, football is not a game; it's a war in which, every Sunday during the season, is a justification of his life.