OFF CENTER - Randy Grimes
Written in 2022.

Randy Grimes played 10 seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, anchoring the offensive line and starting 104 games at center. He was one of the most popular Buc players in the locker room and community and a real fan favourite during some of the darkest seasons in terms of winning performances on the field.

Most Buccaneer fans will remember Randy as a player. I have been fortunate enough to know him in recent years as a friend. Now I know him as a truly amazing human being.

Randy struggled with addition to pain medication and then alcohol and drugs after his career ended. He almost reached the bottom. But with the help of his wife Lydia and his family, he turned it around. And then he set about helping turn around the lives of other people in similar situations.

This is not a book talking about Buc seasons, coaches, players or wins and losses. It is far, far more than that. It is a truly spell-binding insight into what goes into providing our entertainment on the field during a season from a gladiator who was involved in those battles for a decade.

Former Bears' head coach and Super Bowl winner Mike Ditka sums it up in his foreward to the book. "To keep players in the game, team doctors mend their injuries and manage their pain. Once a player leaves the game for good, however, they're on their own. But that doesn't mean the pain goes away. For too many players, the medication they took to stay on the field follows them into retirement."

The book takes the form of alternating between Randy's own story and an intervention he and Lydia do to help a similar addict. There are books that go into the locker room to give you an insight into NFL life. This is a book that gives you an insight into the soul of an NFL player, one you that you thought you knew.

In recent years, the plight of former players has become a topic more in the attention of fans, media and the public in general. A book like this can only continue to shine a light on what used to be a dark corner of the game.

Randy Grimes was a tremendous center for the Buccaneers. Now you will get to know him as a tremendous man with an amazing wife. I cannot recommend this book enough.