Buzz Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights Turns 25

The Philly journalist goes on Fresh Air to reminisce about the making of the multi-million selling novel—and a few other things.


Courtesy of Vanity Fair


Twenty-five years ago, Philly journalist Buzz Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights: a Town, a Team, and a Dream debuted in bookstores across the nation. The novel, which follows a superstar high school football team in Odessa, Texas, as they prepare and play for the state championship, went on to sell two-million copies and spawn a successful film and TV show of the same name. ESPN called it the best sports book in the past quarter century. Sports Illustrated named it the 4th best sports book of all time. And when it was all said and done, Buzz just got sick of hearing about it.

In an interview that aired Monday on Philly-produced podcast Fresh Air, stand-in host Dave Davies chats with Bissinger about the making of the book—from the cold reception it got from some Odessa citizens to the relationship he formed with African American team member Boobie Williams, who, as Bissinger told Davies, “was basically treated as a football animal.” He also delves in to the immense feeling of failure he felt after the book reached its apex, explaining that he had written several other works—one, A Prayer for the City, selling as much as 42,000 copies—that no one else were talking about. “It was hard, it was hard, because I felt like a one-hit wonder,” he told Davies.

He then goes on to chat about some of the more recent headlines that have bore his name — including his brave reveal that he suffered from a high-end shopping addiction, and how that does (or doesn’t) relate to transgender woman of the year Caitlyn Jenner, whom he profiled in a much-publicized Vanity Fair piece in June. (We chatted with him more about that experience here.)

Check out Bissinger’s full interview on Fresh Air below. The show also shares a recap of their discussion here, but if you want the full effect in word-form, check out the transcript here.