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Jason Peter was, at one time, completely devoted to heroin. As a star football player in college and first round NFL draft pick, Peter had plenty of money and fame to feed into his addiction. What started with opiates turned into an addiction to stronger and more dangerous drugs. Once his injuries made him leave the field, his addiction grew with his seemingly untiring supply of money, time, and need for pleasure. Peter later got clean and, along with co-author Tony O’Neill, tells his unflinching story of addiction and his road to recovery.
“Hero of the Underground gives us a portrait of red-blooded jock as monster dope fiend. It’s a savage, unsparing, eye-popping ride through the dark soul of big money, endless drugs, American manhood, and our national past time—self-destruction. Ex-Cornhusker Jason Peter writes like a soulful badass, and we’re lucky he lived to tell the tale. Had Hunter Thompson been a football player instead of a fan, this is the book he’d have written. Flat-out, mash-your-face-in-the-dirt amazing.”—Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight
“Wow, I am not sure how to express how unsettling this wound up being, for me. The book is a sledgehammer. When I think about the book, I feel this sort of hollow whistling in my chest.”—Nancy Rommelmann, New York Times bestselling author of The Real Real World
“Riveting . . . the first page took me to the top of a roller coaster and dropped me straight down.”—Peter King, SportsIllustrated.com
“Compelling brutality . . . it's nasty. And well worth the read.”—ESPN.com
“An East Coast kid who never really wanted to do much other than follow his brothers into football, Peter made it big early on, garnering a co-captaincy spot on the powerhouse Nebraska Cornhuskers. Although the Huskers gave Peter the opportunity to shine as a leader and prove his worth to the all-important NFL draft following graduation, the team's doctor helped start him down another path by giving him painkillers. It would take a few years for Peter's serious addiction to bloom, but he enjoyed the experience right from the start. And not just because it was an almost necessary block to the daily beating his body was taking, he admits: ‘All I knew was how much better life looked when you saw it through the haze of opiates.’ After graduation, Peter was a first-round draft pick of the Carolina Panthers. But he was unable to enjoy the moment, as loneliness and growing addictions made it impossible to enjoy anything other than getting high. When a series of surgeries failed to resolve his injuries, Peter was out of the NFL forever. He had a raging drug problem, more money than he knew what to do with and a lot of free time to spend destroying himself. He did it all the usual ways—strippers and blow, lying to his family, going in and out of rehab—but the bruising way he describes them, aided by co-author O'Neill, is more harrowing than usual. Peter's narrative relentlessly focuses on the brutalizing facts, and it is free from the macho posturing and self-congratulatory navel-gazing common in recovery memoirs.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Peter, a star at the University of Nebraska's storied football program in the late 1990s and a first-round NFL draft pick, details his short, frenzied life as a drug user and veteran of the treatment center circuit. It started with painkillers in college, which turned into a full-blown addiction as he battled an array of injuries that ended his career by his late 20s. With plenty of money and time available, Peter's partying escapades eventually led him to freebasing cocaine and turning his upscale New York City apartment into arguably the world's most expensive heroin retreat, complete with a live-in junkie stripper girlfriend. Avoiding self-help urgings and self-congratulations, Peter (who is now clean) and O'Neill have crafted an unflinching look at the dark side of a life devoted to pleasure . . . The book's power lies in his honesty in detailing the depths of his despair from seeking the next high.”—Publishers Weekly
JASON PETER grew up in Middletown, New Jersey. He was an All American and a member of three National Championship football teams at the University of Nebraska, co-captaining the championship team. He was also a National Football League first-round draft pick by the Carolina Panthers, where he played for four years before injuries forced him to retire. He is now married and lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he co-hosts a sports radio program, The Spread, for ESPN.
TONY O’NEILL is a poet and novelist whose books include Down and Out on Murder Mile and Digging the Vein. He lives in
Watch this video to see Jason Peters on Jason Peter on KMTV Omaha's Sports Soundoff. He discusses his memoir Hero of the Underground.