Fictional private eyes share in common with real-life football players a penchant for landing face down after taking a hard hit from someone trying to impede their progress. It’s happened to my character, ex-Ohio State quarterback Andy Hayes, more times than he cares to remember. He’s not alone in this dilemma, coming from a long line of ex-gridiron gumshoes. In honor of Super Bowl Sunday, a short and likely incomplete list (nominations for the ones I’ve missed most welcome):
__ John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee. A self-proclaimed “salvage consultant” rather than private investigator, McGee was a college star who says in one book, A Deadly Shade of Gold, that a knee injury kept him from the pros. But in The Turquoise Lament we learn he did play professional football until a tackle by a Detroit Lions player laid him low for good.
__Ace Atkins’ Nick Travers, is an ex-New Orleans Saint turned part-time detective and full-time Tulane University blues historian.
__Robert Irvine’s Moroni Traveler, subject of eight mysteries, is a non-Mormon ex-pro football player and private eye in Salt Lake City, Utah.
__William Campbell Gault’s Brock (The Rock) Callahan, a former pro with the Los Angeles Rams turned upscale private investigator in L.A. Mystery historians note he was one of the first fictional private eyes to have a steady girlfriend, giving my character a bit of comfort.
__John Gardner’s Peter Mickelsson. This one’s for sentimental purposes only since Gardner wasn’t a crime writer. But his last novel, Mickelsson’s Ghost, a sort of psychological and supernatural puzzler, is one of my favorites and features a former football player turned philosophy professor.
Finally, this list wouldn’t be complete without two movies my character is tired of hearing about: Point Break (1991) in which Keanu Reeves plays Johnny Utah, an ex-Ohio State quarterback turned undercover FBI agent infiltrating a bank-robbing gang of surfers; and The Replacements (2000), in which Reeves plays Shane Falco, also an ex-Ohio State quarterback, recruited to play pro football during a fictional players’ strike.