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Hero of the Underground: A Memoir

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I wasn’t afraid of death. How could I be? I lived under death’s shadow every day. When you swallow eighty Vicodin, twenty sleeping pills, drink a bottle of vodka, and still survive, a certain sense of invulnerability stays with you. When you continually use drugs with the kind of reckless determination that I did, the limit to how much heroin or crack you can ingest is not I wasn’t afraid of death. How could I be? I lived under death’s shadow every day. When you swallow eighty Vicodin, twenty sleeping pills, drink a bottle of vodka, and still survive, a certain sense of invulnerability stays with you. When you continually use drugs with the kind of reckless determination that I did, the limit to how much heroin or crack you can ingest is not defined in dollar amounts, but in the amounts your body can withstand without experiencing a seizure or respiratory failure. Yet at the end of every binge, every night of lining up six, seven, eight crack pipes and hitting them one after the other bam! bam! bam! every night of smoking and snorting bag after bag of heroin . . . after all of that, when you still wake up to see the same dirty sky over you as the night before, you start to think that instead of dying, maybe your punishment is to live---to be stuck in this purgatory of self-abuse and misery for an eternity. Sometimes you start to think that death would come as a blessed relief. Toward the end, I found myself contemplating death again. Only this time I wasn’t going to leave it to chance. I was going to buy a gun, load the thing, place the barrel in my mouth, and blow my fucking brains out. I sat on my parents’ sofa as I pondered this. All I needed was a gun. And then all-- of my problems-- would be solved.


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I wasn’t afraid of death. How could I be? I lived under death’s shadow every day. When you swallow eighty Vicodin, twenty sleeping pills, drink a bottle of vodka, and still survive, a certain sense of invulnerability stays with you. When you continually use drugs with the kind of reckless determination that I did, the limit to how much heroin or crack you can ingest is not I wasn’t afraid of death. How could I be? I lived under death’s shadow every day. When you swallow eighty Vicodin, twenty sleeping pills, drink a bottle of vodka, and still survive, a certain sense of invulnerability stays with you. When you continually use drugs with the kind of reckless determination that I did, the limit to how much heroin or crack you can ingest is not defined in dollar amounts, but in the amounts your body can withstand without experiencing a seizure or respiratory failure. Yet at the end of every binge, every night of lining up six, seven, eight crack pipes and hitting them one after the other bam! bam! bam! every night of smoking and snorting bag after bag of heroin . . . after all of that, when you still wake up to see the same dirty sky over you as the night before, you start to think that instead of dying, maybe your punishment is to live---to be stuck in this purgatory of self-abuse and misery for an eternity. Sometimes you start to think that death would come as a blessed relief. Toward the end, I found myself contemplating death again. Only this time I wasn’t going to leave it to chance. I was going to buy a gun, load the thing, place the barrel in my mouth, and blow my fucking brains out. I sat on my parents’ sofa as I pondered this. All I needed was a gun. And then all-- of my problems-- would be solved.

30 review for Hero of the Underground: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Shaffer

    Jason Peter, co-captain of the 1997-98 Nebraska Cornhuskers college championship team, recounts the improbable story of a jock that became a junkie. Peter's story reads as the anti-Peyton Manning story--fitting, since Peter's Cornhuskers crushed Manning in the championship game in 1998. It's part football memoir and part drug memoir, and a gripping read that I read through in two nights. Peter and co-writer Tony O'Neill write some of the best prose that I've ever read on the game of college footb Jason Peter, co-captain of the 1997-98 Nebraska Cornhuskers college championship team, recounts the improbable story of a jock that became a junkie. Peter's story reads as the anti-Peyton Manning story--fitting, since Peter's Cornhuskers crushed Manning in the championship game in 1998. It's part football memoir and part drug memoir, and a gripping read that I read through in two nights. Peter and co-writer Tony O'Neill write some of the best prose that I've ever read on the game of college football. In several chapters, it's difficult to distinguish Peter's rush from playing football from the rush of legal and illegal drug abuse. His story is all too common in the football industry, where young talent is bulked up, chewed up, and spit out when their bodies start to break down. The only difference is that Jason Peter filled the void left in his life with crack and heroin, whereas few players (and ex-players) ever reach such extremes of addiction.

  2. 5 out of 5

    George

    Jason Peter played pro football for a few years, and when his career ended he basically had access to unlimited amounts of cash. This memoir relates how he spent most of it on drugs, going from painkillers to cocaine to crack to heroin. The football parts of the book aren't interesting unless you like hearing ex-jocks rant about being warriors. When the author's body breaks down and his team kicks him to the curb, he is free to devote all his free time to drugs. Peter's drug stories are the cent Jason Peter played pro football for a few years, and when his career ended he basically had access to unlimited amounts of cash. This memoir relates how he spent most of it on drugs, going from painkillers to cocaine to crack to heroin. The football parts of the book aren't interesting unless you like hearing ex-jocks rant about being warriors. When the author's body breaks down and his team kicks him to the curb, he is free to devote all his free time to drugs. Peter's drug stories are the centerpiece of this memoir; they are fascinating in a horrifying sort of way, like a car crash. There's the time his strung-out ex-girlfriend threatens to kill herself; the author flees from his apartment in a crack-induced panic and spends the next 3 or 4 hours evading the imaginary cops and DEA agents tailing him. When Peter's family stages an intervention he stuffs his drugs in his pockets and locks himself in the bathroom; he then rushes past them and spends the next six or seven hours doing drugs in public restrooms. Or there's the time the he rents a private plane to go to a rehab clinic, and shows up at the airport with a pair of rented call girls and a bunch of heroin and cocaine stuffed down his crotch - needless to say that particular rehab stint doesn't go too well. Peter is honest throughout, which makes him a sympathetic figure. He tries to link his drug use to football, which doesn't work for me. The author's love for drugs shines through the pages; I think he would have come to this if he'd been an accountant.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mari

    Wow. I just finish this book and I can't stop saying WOW. First of all, as a Nebraska fan I was fascinated to read a player's point of view about being on the team. Preparing for games, the tunnel walk, the Sea of Red, the losses, wins and national championship...all essentially on the shoulders of kids. Second I had never considered the truth behind contract negotiations, what injuries and pain players go through, or the pain that comes with being on a losing team. I think the football talk is Wow. I just finish this book and I can't stop saying WOW. First of all, as a Nebraska fan I was fascinated to read a player's point of view about being on the team. Preparing for games, the tunnel walk, the Sea of Red, the losses, wins and national championship...all essentially on the shoulders of kids. Second I had never considered the truth behind contract negotiations, what injuries and pain players go through, or the pain that comes with being on a losing team. I think the football talk is essential to understand how his drug use began and why it was so intense. He lost his lifelong dream. He had nothing else. He had a hole to fill, or at least get numb enough to forget it was there. As I neared the end of the book I kept wondering how it would all end, the final straw. He hit rock bottom hard so many times. Rehab then relapse over and over. Most addicts with his story die. But he didn't. He's lucky to be alive and he knows it. Its inspiring in so many ways. The drug stories are intense, but any addict will tell you they're definitely not hard to believe or imagine. I can't believe he not only survived it all but also turned his life around. No matter how far down you've gone or how many times you've fallen, you can climb back up. Wow.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Eva Leger

    If this wasn't so focused on his football career I would have loved it I think but I didn't even make it to his NFL days, I stopped around the end of his college football days. It seems like the book hooks people with the description and beginning (which had nothing to do with football at all- only his addiction and his girlfriends)and then goes on to only, and I do mean only, talk about college football games for far too long. I understood this to be a huge part of his life and figured a decent If this wasn't so focused on his football career I would have loved it I think but I didn't even make it to his NFL days, I stopped around the end of his college football days. It seems like the book hooks people with the description and beginning (which had nothing to do with football at all- only his addiction and his girlfriends)and then goes on to only, and I do mean only, talk about college football games for far too long. I understood this to be a huge part of his life and figured a decent part of the book would be about it but I just can't get through it. I don't understand it and have no desire to learn about it either. I have a feeling, or at least have a feeling that it should, the book gets back to his addiction eventually but I'm worn out with the football. He's a cutie though and I like his writing style.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    This was a pretty typical drug rehab book. (Geez, typing that sentence made me feel a little cold-hearted but you know, read one "I almost died from using cocaine but didn't" book, read them all....) I was very impressed by the huge amounts of drugs that he did at the peak of his addiction. The part that I enjoyed about this one was the football. I am a huge Huskers fan and just reading about the glory days of the mid-90s was great. I got a little tired of Peter's maschismo by the end of this, b This was a pretty typical drug rehab book. (Geez, typing that sentence made me feel a little cold-hearted but you know, read one "I almost died from using cocaine but didn't" book, read them all....) I was very impressed by the huge amounts of drugs that he did at the peak of his addiction. The part that I enjoyed about this one was the football. I am a huge Huskers fan and just reading about the glory days of the mid-90s was great. I got a little tired of Peter's maschismo by the end of this, but I have a feeling that is a big part of who he is. There were also several typos throughout the novel that annoyed me....but I am anal like that!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Shonny

    Being a big Husker fan I was anxious to read this book. I really enjoyed it and think Jason Peter has a great story to tell. I won't be surprised if this is made into a TV movie some day. Peter's writing is very rude & crude (wish I had a dollar for each use of the F-word). But he tells it like it is and doesn't pass the blame off on other people. Peter is now living in Lincoln, Nebraska and hosts a sports talk show on the local ESPN Radio station. I hope he continues to do well and lives a happy Being a big Husker fan I was anxious to read this book. I really enjoyed it and think Jason Peter has a great story to tell. I won't be surprised if this is made into a TV movie some day. Peter's writing is very rude & crude (wish I had a dollar for each use of the F-word). But he tells it like it is and doesn't pass the blame off on other people. Peter is now living in Lincoln, Nebraska and hosts a sports talk show on the local ESPN Radio station. I hope he continues to do well and lives a happy life.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany Dixon

    This book is a wonderful memoir of a drug-addicted NFL player. What I really liked about this book was learning what it would be like to have unlimited money and an addiction to heroine and/or cocaine. As a mental health professional, I also learned the patient experience of being in rehab and how the disease model of AA does a huge disservice to many people. It reinforced my belief that telling someone they will always be an addict is not effective for many people. It also sheds light on the fac This book is a wonderful memoir of a drug-addicted NFL player. What I really liked about this book was learning what it would be like to have unlimited money and an addiction to heroine and/or cocaine. As a mental health professional, I also learned the patient experience of being in rehab and how the disease model of AA does a huge disservice to many people. It reinforced my belief that telling someone they will always be an addict is not effective for many people. It also sheds light on the fact that our mental health treatment should focus on strengths and resiliency, empowering people to succeed, not telling them they will always fail and making them go to meetings to talk about drugs when they should be focusing on developing other life purposes and hobbies to pass their time. This book is also surprisingly poetic, and I enjoyed the analogies as well as the visual and sensory descriptions of drug addiction. I felt like I was there and experiencing his withdrawals and highs with him, which really educated me on the seriousness of addiction. I am not a football fan and the book had too much football talk for me, but since I understand that is a part of his story I still get this book deserves 4 stars. I didn’t give it 5 because there were 5-6 typos I noticed. Overall I will remember this book and recommend it for families of those addicted to heroine and/or cocaine as well as mental health professionals.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Hayden

    This is a good book for a more explicit reader and more aggressive than a normal book. This book starts off with him in the present and you can see where he was at the end of his football career. Then the book goes back and shows how he got to the point he was at at the end. What I mean by this was that he shows how he struggled through college. All through the book Jason Peter uses offensive language. Such as when Jason Peter said on multiple occasions “It’s time to fuck up Peyton Manning’’ I f This is a good book for a more explicit reader and more aggressive than a normal book. This book starts off with him in the present and you can see where he was at the end of his football career. Then the book goes back and shows how he got to the point he was at at the end. What I mean by this was that he shows how he struggled through college. All through the book Jason Peter uses offensive language. Such as when Jason Peter said on multiple occasions “It’s time to fuck up Peyton Manning’’ I felt that the offensive language made it more creative and different than a lot of books it just has a different writing style than most books you would read in school. I feel that this book is aiming towards a more mature and older audience. I’m not the type of person to get into a book but I got into this one because it is an easy read. This book drew me into it and for me it made me feel that I was there with him. I feel that if you play football or enjoy the sport it is a good book to look into.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    I'm not much of a reader but once I read the first chapter I was hooked. This book was great. It really opened my eyes to how bad drug addiction really is. I always knew it was rough but seeing one describe it with so much detail of how it feels and what it does to some one was new to me. It's amazing how he survived all of what he went through. I'm not much of a football fan at all, so I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if there was less about his career, although I do understand that th I'm not much of a reader but once I read the first chapter I was hooked. This book was great. It really opened my eyes to how bad drug addiction really is. I always knew it was rough but seeing one describe it with so much detail of how it feels and what it does to some one was new to me. It's amazing how he survived all of what he went through. I'm not much of a football fan at all, so I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if there was less about his career, although I do understand that that was the most important, successful part of his life. I would love to read more about the situations that he had gotten into while using, instead of his football games. Overall this book is definitely one of my favorites now, and I will for sure read it again.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mateo

    jason Peter, captain of the 1997-98 Nebraska championship team, recounts the improbable story of a jock that became a uncontrollable drug addict .Peter's Corn huskers crushed Manning in the championship game in 1998 the story reads like an anti manning story. It's part football memoir and part drug memoir, and a gripping read. an all american defensive tackle with an origin story better than most.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

    A pretty decent book about the horrors of addiction and where it can take you, but it got bogged down in too much detail about football. I found myself skimming over a lot around some of those chapters. I did find myself rooting for him and begging him to to get clean, to finally finally get clean before he died. The ending was a good and a happy one.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Timmy

    Usually a memoir of overcoming addiction after a wild career ride proves both entertaining as well as inspiring. This misses on both counts and wow, Jason Peter is a true blue asshole. Hero of the Underground....one star.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Direwolfgavin

    Found it to skip around a lot, but a good quick read at work. Tells about his drug and opiate abuse and how the link between painkillers and the NFL is very strong.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Suzy

    Great read Honest and real story about addiction. Just gets to show you that even with all the money in the world, people have the same struggles.

  15. 5 out of 5

    shelly broz

    Great book to read It was a great book! It was easy to read and being from Nebraska and watching Jason play at UNL made it even more interesting.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Todd McQueen

    Jason Peters amazing story about playing football and then spiraling out of control on drugs. A dark sorry but worth the read (adult)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Allison

    This would have been a 5 star if it wasn't for all sports crap

  18. 5 out of 5

    Hilary

    Jason Peter appears to be a very honest man. From how hard he worked to rise as a 1st round draft pick for the NFL, to how far he fell as a full blown crack, opiate, and heroin addict, he tells it like it was. I was immediately drawn in to his dark world as some of the things he was saying were so unbelievable. Can you really build up enough of a tolerance that when you purposely try to OD on 60 vicodin - you actually live? It's like a horrible car accident you drive by - you don't want to look b Jason Peter appears to be a very honest man. From how hard he worked to rise as a 1st round draft pick for the NFL, to how far he fell as a full blown crack, opiate, and heroin addict, he tells it like it was. I was immediately drawn in to his dark world as some of the things he was saying were so unbelievable. Can you really build up enough of a tolerance that when you purposely try to OD on 60 vicodin - you actually live? It's like a horrible car accident you drive by - you don't want to look because it's so gruesome, but you can't help but glance over and say a silent prayer that everyone is okay. My only frustration is when Jason finally gets clean. After multiple stints in rehabs of all types, he finally gets one that makes it stick. However, how and why was severely diminished. After so much detail for so much of the book, I still don't understand why this was very gently skimmed over. This is the rehab portion I would want to read about the most. Also everything was tied together with a bow. The good job, the beautiful super understanding wife, the commitment to sobriety that doesn't seem that hard at all after more than a decade of smoking crack for 72 hours at a clip - it just didn't sit right. Good book, but the ending left me frustrated and wondering if it was actually a "memoir". 3 out of 5 stars.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Feistytiger

    I read the English version of this book, which i know has been changed slightly from the American. I could not put this book down, Jason's downfall was fascinating. I think what really helped with this novel is he felt honest about it all and how he really felt. Even when he was hitting rehab he admitted he did not really want to be their or get off the drugs and this brought an honest side to the story. You did feel somewhat sorry for him for what he went through. However you also realised he b I read the English version of this book, which i know has been changed slightly from the American. I could not put this book down, Jason's downfall was fascinating. I think what really helped with this novel is he felt honest about it all and how he really felt. Even when he was hitting rehab he admitted he did not really want to be their or get off the drugs and this brought an honest side to the story. You did feel somewhat sorry for him for what he went through. However you also realised he brought some of it on himself. This memoir was really interesting, it was great to get into the mind of an addict and go through exactly what he was going through. The highs and the lows of his life. Their were bits of the book that he could have hidden or brushed aside but he chose to share this which really helped with this novel. I don't have much experience or knowledge of American Football or that mentality but understood this through Jasons story. If you into these real life biographies this is a good book for you. It gives an insight into the mind of a Junkie. Its easy to read, and hard to put down.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brett Starr

    I'd personally never even heard of Jason Peter, but the backstory sounded amazing and I love the NFL, so after reading several reviews I decided to give it a try. Jason Peter is a prime example of how the NFL spits you out when your no longer worthy of playing, this book in no way puts down the NFL, it just once again brings to light just how harsh the system is, one of my favorite lines in the book best describes it, "When you put on your team colors, you are no longer a person--you are a cog i I'd personally never even heard of Jason Peter, but the backstory sounded amazing and I love the NFL, so after reading several reviews I decided to give it a try. Jason Peter is a prime example of how the NFL spits you out when your no longer worthy of playing, this book in no way puts down the NFL, it just once again brings to light just how harsh the system is, one of my favorite lines in the book best describes it, "When you put on your team colors, you are no longer a person--you are a cog in a machine. That is how a team operates, and that is what wins games. People are discarded in this game when their usefulness is at an end." JP's career was in jeopardy because of injuries, then he got hooked on pain killers, the pain killers led to cocaine, the cocaine to meth and crack! His journey thru drugs/rehab is insane, he was an unemployed millionaire with a raging drug problem good, good stuff!!!!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Marcus

    This Book is about jason peter and how he has battled being a crack adict and a herion addict also he has tried to kill himself to do this he took 20 vicodin and 30 ambian and 2 bottles of vodka. He was a All Amercian defencive end at nebraska he was a co-captian with grant windstrom on maybe the best team of all time in college football they went 13-0 his senior season and stomped tennessea in the fed ex orange bowl. Jason was drafted by the carolina panthers and he only played four seasons bec This Book is about jason peter and how he has battled being a crack adict and a herion addict also he has tried to kill himself to do this he took 20 vicodin and 30 ambian and 2 bottles of vodka. He was a All Amercian defencive end at nebraska he was a co-captian with grant windstrom on maybe the best team of all time in college football they went 13-0 his senior season and stomped tennessea in the fed ex orange bowl. Jason was drafted by the carolina panthers and he only played four seasons because he was plauged by back and shoulder also severe neck injurys

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    I grew up watching, loving, living through this team, but also hearing about all the trouble a guy who had his career cut out for him. I haven't been able to put it down. This was really amazing to read. You didn't follow Nebraska football in the 90's and not hear the 'Peter' name almost everyday. Either on or off the field. What I really appreciated about this book is that it was real. You can tell that Jason really had a hand in it, and not just a writer who put Jasons name on it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    This is a really great book, interesting, kept me reading. Once I started I hated putting it down. Even if you are not familiar with Jason Peter, it does not matter much. It is a great story about going from college football to NFL. The lows and highs of both and how a drug addiction started and took hold. All the craziness that takes place in the 'drug world'. Again, quite good, I would recommend to anyone.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    A freaky read on drug addiction. I could have lived without reading about all the football hype, but his addiction did begin as a result of pain pill management in the NFL. Peter opened my eyes on how the "high" will make you do the unthinkable and where you come from and what you have accomplished doesn't make any difference once drugs take over your life. Overall, an interesting read..... But not fantastic writing.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    This was an excellent memoir about substance abuse and how someone can fall into addiction. It was an interesting memoir because of the honesty about how he treated the members of his family, and also his friends. I enjoy memoirs as I have already stated, but this one was exceptional in terms of putting you into someone else's shoes.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Ledy

    I'm a homegrown Husker and watched Jason play for years....never heard much about him after he left for the NFL until he came back and I heard about this book. It's really hard to connect the guy in the book to the god I watched play in the sea of red. I am amazed at how brave he is to write this book and let everyone in.....

  27. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Seckinger

    This was in the top three worst books I've ever read. I love football, and I have compassion for those who try to get clean and sober. I found myself, page after page, hoping he would overdose or have some sort of major injury. This is the most hated narrator I have ever read — and it's a true story!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Seth

    an interesting look at a very promising football player's downfall into addiction. while not original and rather "already read that," jason peter draws you into his addiction describing the downfall of someone who had everything going for you. a quick read and definitely worth picking up if you like an addiction memoir that doesn't feel at all embellished.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Marcusg

    This Book is on a ex football star in jason peter and his addiction to crack cocain and also heroin and he wis a football star at nebraska he was a standout defencive lineman after he was drafted too the carolina panthers and he was lonley sence he had no family around he was scared so he stared trying it then he loved it he went too more than 30 treatment centers

  30. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    I wanted to read this book because I was at Nebraska at the same time as the Peter brothers and even though I only met Jason a couple of times I wanted to read his Memoir. I enjoyed the honesty of it, and was glad he found a way out of his addiction. The writing was almost too raw, you won't like it if you don't like rough language.

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