A Message from Don Cockroft
From The Question — To a Dream — To Reality
It all began with: "Sonny, why didn’t you kick against the Raiders on January 4th, 1981?"
The idea of writing a book about the 1980 Kardiac Kids began to develop in the year 2000, shortly after marrying my wife, Barb, and moving back to Ohio from Colorado.
Returning to Ohio enabled me to reunite with my Kardiac Kids teammates living in the area and to reconnect with Cleveland Browns fans. Whether I was with teammates or signing autographs at a Browns Backers event or a charitable function, the conversation invariably turned to a discussion of the Kardiac Kids and that remarkable season of 1980.
As if it were yesterday, fans would recall games, plays and special memories.
They would ask about the touchdown catch made by Dave Logan in the final seconds that defeated the Green Bay Packers in old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. They would ask what it felt like to kick the game-winning field goal against the Cincinnati Bengals to win the division championship. They would ask about the frigid-cold playoff game against the Oakland Raiders and, yes, they offered their opinions on Red Right 88.
Most often, however, the fans would just want to know about the guys-the players and coaches. I began to realize that, if I wrote a book, I must attempt to interview every living member of the Kardiac Kids, not only to capture our memories as teammates, but also to bring the fans up to date on the lives of the players and coaches today.
These are fans who bonded so closely with us on our journey to the division title. They embraced us with love, dedication and enthusiastic support. We were more than just a team to these fans. We were friends. We were family.
When I’m asked by a fan about a certain player or coach, it’s as if he or she is asking about an old friend or family member not seen or heard from in recent years.
"What is Thom Darden doing today? How about Coach Sam, the Pruitts, Dino Hall, Keith Wright, Dave Logan and Clay Matthews? Where are Charlie Hall, Tom DeLeone, Clarence Scott, Henry Sheppard, Ron Bolton-what are they doing?"
"What was Lyle Alzado like?"
How many times have I heard, "I was in love with Brian Sipe. Does he still live in the area?"
Time and again, I find that the love for the Kardiac Kids remains genuine and heartfelt. That love affair, the mutual respect and admiration for the players by the fans, and for the fans by the players, was-and still is today-truly a beautiful thing.
In September of 2007, while signing autographs at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, I was approached by an avid Browns fan-a lady from Cleveland.
After I signed a picture for her, she looked me in the eye and asked, as if it happened yesterday, "Sonny, why didn’t you kick against the Oakland Raiders in that playoff game on January 4th, 1981?"
I smiled, laughed and then jokingly replied, "Maam, you are the one millionth person who has asked me that question. I think I’ll write a book about it."
Encouraged by a gentleman who overheard the conversation, I decided it was time to follow through on the project I’d been contemplating for the past seven years.
Today, I humbly believe The 1980 Kardiac Kids - Our Untold Stories will become a Cleveland Browns classic. The book has far exceeded my initial hopes and expectations.
More than a hundred hours of recorded interviews have been transcribed, written, rewritten and painstakingly edited to assure that the stories presented and truths revealed accurately reflect the essence and meaning of what each player and coach shared with me.
In words and pictures, you will be able to relive every amazing game of 1980-a season of destiny.
You will read thoughts and reflections from the players and coaches on Red Right 88-a moment of despair.
You will also read many other stories from this incredible season as told by the players, coaches and fans-a lifetime of memories.
And, possibly most engaging, you will read in the Post Game section about lessons, realities and truths shared by the players and coaches that transcend the game of football.
To read a complete summary of what you'll find in The 1980 Kardiac Kids - Our Untold Stories, click on Book Preview.