In case you didn’t hear, Brian Urlacher co-authored a kid’s book. And let’s just say his debut in football was a lot better than his debut in writing.
According to an interview with DNAinfo, the former Bears linebacker came out with Middle School Rules because he wanted to tell kids that it’s okay to have awkward years.
“I had some struggles. It’s normal.” Urlacher said about his new book. “I just wanted to show my kids and most kids that it’s normal to go through those things.”
In an effort to analyze Middle School Rules for myself, I decided to purchase it and write a thorough book report. But after reading it, I couldn’t help but notice how much it sucked.
In fact, Middle School Rules might be one of the worst books I’ve ever read.
BOOK REPORT: “Middle School Rules of Brian Urlacher” By Sean Jensen & Brian Urlacher
Book Title: Middle School Rules
Author(s): Brian Urlacher & Sean Jensen
Sean Jensen, the book’s other author, is a former Bears beat writer for the Chicago Sun-Times. After quitting the Sun-Times in May of 2013, Jensen approached Urlacher about his idea for the book. I won’t poke at Jensen, as I’m not an expert in writing kid’s books.
Then again, neither is he.
Story Setting: Lovington, New Mexico
Characters: First off, this story has way too many characters for a kids book. I doubt that I included them all, but they’re listed below in completely random order.
Brandon: Brian’s best friend
Casey: Brian’s brother
Taymon: The best basketball player at his high school
Daniel: The first kid to dunk in practice
Coach Q: Football coach
Chief Bridgforth: Basketball coach
Baseball coach: Baseball coach
Troy: Brian’s semi-abusive step dad
Uncle Henry: Brian’s abusive stepdad’s paddle
Sheri: Brian’s sister
Mom: Brian’s mom
Chris: Some teammate
Coach Faith: Brian’s football/weightlifting coach?
Michael Gray: Opposing player
Paul Maupin: Opposing player
Jessie Cole: Opposing player
Brian plays football, basketball, and baseball. Brian gets big and strong, even though he used to pour pitchers of ice water on his sister in the shower and got paddled by his stepdad and principle in middle school.
Chapters 1: In the very first chapter, Brian gets punched in the head for learning how to dribble with both hands. I think. Then again, it’s the first chapter of a kid’s novel, and I already have no idea what’s going on.
Anywho, Brian was born in Lovington, New Mexico. He has a brother Casey, a sister Sheri, and his parents got divorced when he was seven.
Growing up, Brian and his brother made up a game called ‘Buck Em Bronco’ where they tied four strings to a massive bucket and pulled on it until the other person fell off.
In fourth grade, Brian sucked at baseball and often cried about it. Even though he wanted to quit, his inspirational mother forced him to finish his final season.
When he was playing Casey during a little league game, Brian intentionally beaned his brother. He said he didn’t feel guilt, and Casey wasn’t mad. In summary, Brian learned nothing from throwing a baseball full speed at his brother on purpose and was only punished by not being allowed to eat snacks or watch TV for a couple weeks.
Chapter 4: This chapter focuses on the different ways that Brian and his brother tormented their sister Sheri.
From pouring ice water on her in the shower to putting toothpaste in her hair while she’s sleeping, there’s no shortage of odd (and creepy) pranks that they pulled on her.
Also, the title for Chapter 4 is “Ruling the Roost” and I have no idea what it means.
Chapter 5: Brian goes back to the sixth grade, which is confusing because he was in the seventh grade at the start of the book. As you’ll see, chronological order is not a redeemable quality of Middle School Rules (if it had any redeemable qualities).
Chapter 6: This is the most head-scratching part of the entire book.
“Uncle Henry was a two-foot board with a green handle on one end and two quarter-sized air holes on the opposite end. Those holes allowed Uncle Henry to zip through the air even faster.”
In case you’re confused, Uncle Henry is the paddle that Brian’s stepdad Troy used to beat them when they needed to be disciplined.
Chapter 7: Brian’s struggles in football, but it’s probably because the other team has a kid with a mustache. The only other thing I learned in Chapter 7 is that Brian and his brother obsessed over Zebra Cakes, and it was important enough to mention in a chapter otherwise dedicated to football.
Chapter 8: Brian likes Zebra Cakes.
Chapter 9: Brian made $80 mowing lawns and then spent it all on carnival games to win a stuffed bear for a girl he was crushing on. Due to its sense-making, this part of the story was my favorite.
Chapter 12: I’ve now lost count of how many times Brian has almost lost but ended up winning. However, we’re beginning to learn every single detail of Brian Urlacher’s pre-collegiate athletic career.
Chapter 13: Brian pretty much lifts weights for the entirety of this chapter.
Chapter 16: This chapter talks about Principal Karger – the school administrator that smacks Brian with a paddle (a different one than Uncle Henry) for something that Brian didn’t even do.
Chapter 17: In “Dealing With A Tough Loss”, Brian’s football team deals with a tough loss in the first game of the season. Seriously did not see this plot twist coming.
Chapters 18 – 28: There’s a reason that I’m starting to rush through this book report. Partially, it’s because it wasn’t entertaining. And partially, it’s because I’ve already thought of 20,000 better ways to spend my time.
Chapters 18 through 28 are pretty much the last ten chapters with different opposing teams and players.
Brian hits a growth spurt.
His team starts dominating other teams.
Brian is awesome at football.
Chapters 29 – 33: After seeing that the title of Chapter 29 is “Indispensable Brian,” I’ve officially checked out.
At the end of the book, the Wildcats win the championship.
Perhaps I was naive to assume that one of the greatest linebackers in NFL history could write a kid’s book. But despite the arduous task of relating to 11-year-olds, even the parts about football were unbearable to read.
There’s no chronological order, and instead of offering valuable life lessons to kids – it exposes them to the physical abuse Brian faced from parents and school administrators growing up. It also shows kids how to pull pranks on their siblings, and that fighting will help resolve issues (Chapter 26).
If this was an innocent effort to experiment a potential post-playing career path, that’s fine. But for all the headlines that have surrounded Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and the rest of the NFL’s finest, I can’t imagine why Brian Urlacher and Sean Jensen thought it would be wise to include some of the things they included.
In summary, I don’t recommend purchasing Middle School Rules (unless you’re a parent looking for new ways to punish your kid).
(Illustrations courtesy of Middle School Rules)