Tough Luck: Sid Luckman, Murder Inc., and the Rise of the Modern NFL

Atlantic Monthly. Sept. 2019. 336p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780802129444. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780802147110. CRIME
In 1935, Meyer Luckman, a minor affiliate of the New York mafia, was convicted of the murder of his wife’s brother for siphoning money from the Luckman trucking business to cover gambling debts. Luckman’s son Sid was then a football star at Columbia University, and the national press shielded his identity from the lurid tale splashed across several newspapers at the time. In the courtroom, Sid’s maternal grandfather denounced Meyer as a murderer, and Meyer was sent to prison. Sid’s mother never spoke to or about her husband again in the aftermath of her brother’s death. Throughout Sid’s career with the Chicago Bears, the story vanished; even in Luckman’s 1949 autobiography, the only mention of his father was that he had died. Here, Rosen (Such Good Girls) fleshes out the full saga in this lively biography of the Hall of Fame player and successful businessman. 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. organization that began to unravel shortly after the murder. Rosen’s assessment is that Sid lived a life of generosity at least partly as atonement for his father’s sins.
VERDICT A terrific read that should draw interest from all general nonfiction readers

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