As 18-year-old Sid Luckman made headlines for his high school football exploits in Brooklyn, his father, Meyer Luckman, was making headlines in the same papers for the gangland murder of his own brother-in-law. When Sid became a star at Columbia and a Hall of Fame NFL quarterback in Chicago, the connection between sports celebrity son and mobster father was ignored by the press for eight decades.
... lively ... Rosen delves not only into the lives of the Luckman family but also into the history of crime boss Lepke Buchalter and his Murder Inc. ... A terrific read that should draw interest from all general nonfiction readers.
One of the pleasures of this biography is its salting with quaint details of American life from not so long ago ... We’ve certainly missed the chance to explore how growing up with a man capable of such violence influenced the young athlete. The author does his best to glean what can be learned, but records and recollections offer little ... The book glancingly refers to the anti-Semitism that Sid Luckman faced in his athletic career—he was one of the few Jewish players in the NFL—but in general the role of religion in his life rarely comes up ... Mr. Rosen invests considerable effort to link Luckman’s father to one of the most infamous Jewish gangsters of the era, Louis 'Lepke' Buchalter.
Rosen focuses on Luckman’s football exploits but also looks at organized crime in the thirties and forties and Meyer Luckman’s involvement in it, noting how the story of Luckman’s family was buried by the press, which was then more interested in promoting heroes than reporting scandals. A fascinating book that is sure to be popular as the NFL approaches its 100th anniversary.