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Bill Moushey

October 12, 2011

Bill Moushey, Author, Never Give Up (July 19,  2011):

First, what made you decide to focus a book solely on James Harrison?  

I grew up in NE Ohio, went to Kent State (played football for a year) and knew of Harrison through those channels.  I knew he also had a tough life.  When he won the NFL Defensive Player of the year award, moved forward and learned he had a fascinating life of overcoming daunting odds to achieve success.

How reluctant was Harrison in working with you on the book – and did you experience those moments of intimidation that many sportwriters seem to when they interview him?

It took awhile to get him to loosen up, but I had the luxury of time.  

He does have an intimidating demeanor, but once you pierce through that, he was engaging and Interesting.

In your research and discussions with Harrison, what surprised you most about Harrison “the person” versus the player?  

He loves kids.  He lights up whenever he’s around them.  

That’s why he set up a foundation helping children.

Harrison struggled with his attitude early on in his career, making it difficult for him to stick with teams. How did he turn that attitude around – who/what influenced him?  

I think he had a difficult transition from college to professional football on a lot of fronts.  

I think he learned how to be a professional from folks like Jason Gildon and Joey Porter.  I also think once he learned the complicated defenses, he quit thinking and started reacting, which helped him become all-pro.

Were you able to derive what the source was/is behind Harrison’s hard-nosed attitude in your discussions with him?  

Early in his life, he created a wall around himself.  It might have been because he went to schools outside his neighborhood (all-white) or maybe it was insecurity.  

The bottom line is that he used that rough exterior to his advantage early and as life unfolded.  I think the older he gets, the less hard-nosed he is.

If you offer up one experience of Harrison’s that best sums up the man, what would that be?  

He works harder than anyone.  His focus is unique.  He plays through incredible injuries.  

He faces adversity head on and, like the book says, he never gave up.

What do you make of his recent Men’s Journal interview and subsequent fallout?  

What he said, in large part, is true.  How he said it was indefensible.  

My point of view is that he refused to bad-mouth coaches and teammates in the book (on the record).  I wish he would have made public his inner thoughts in print, as it would have made the book better.

Many of the players supported Harrison after the interview – even ones he criticized. Does this surprise you, and how close is he with his teammates?  

Not at all.  He is very involved with his defensive teammates.  They are a band of brothers.  

You may have noticed the comments he made about the quarterback are the only negative words he has ever used to talk about teammates, or for that matter, anyone else in the NFL.  

I still don’t get why he did it this time.

In your discussions with Harrison, were you able to tell just how important football is to him? Was he threat to retire last season credible in your opinion?  

His children come first, his family second and then football take over.  He works every waking hour on football.  He does an incredible amount of things to keep him in the best possible position to be great.

What drives Harrison outside of football?

Children and family.  

He will have to find a hobby or something after his playing days are over.  

What else would surprise fans most about Harrison?  

The fateful 100-yard interception return for a touchdown in the Super Bowl was a complete improvisation by Harrison.

Any new books on the horizon?

I’m working on one about a corrupt U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agent and keeping an eye on a few sporting folks with hopes of keeping it going.


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