ISBN 0671663267 - As a penny book, destined for the landfill, I read Out Of Control only because it was there. I didn't have high expectations - I'm not a football fan and never heard of Henderson. It turned out to be better than I expected, but not great, leaving me oddly disappointed.
Henderson, poor kid from a family that is poor in more than one way, finds football. Football will save and destroy him, but he doesn't know that in the beginning. As the first pick of the Cowboys, Henderson expects recognition and applause and when that goes to number 2 - a white guy - Henderson states over and over that it's clearly racism. Then (on page 259) he writes "I knew about black pride but I felt that anyone who claimed that he'd been blocked by racism was just a poor soul himself." This is one of the two worst examples of contradictory storytelling; the other is the downward spiral that drugs takes him on. The covers, front and back, mention how many bad things happened to him because of his drug addiction, but Henderson spends a majority of the book somehow bragging about the drugs - hardly a warning to others. Henderson goes into some detail (not graphic) about orgies, and the number of women he has in bed at one time, all thanks to the drugs. At the same time, the reader is supposed to believe that drugs are bad. The message is somewhat muddied.
In the end Henderson is difficult to like. He seems to take far less responsibility than he should and blames others, the Cowboys in particular, for things that make him sound paranoid. When he is nearly put on waivers, he retires. They try to work it out, but he refuses. Then he discovers that by retiring, he has given control to the Cowboys and says "I am convinced that that's why they set it all up." clearly not "owning" the fact that HE quit, and HE refused to work it out. Like his rants that his signing wasn't celebrated because he's black, his paranoia makes him a remarkably unappealing, unsympathetic character.
I know that the main story is supposed to be the drugs and his recovery from them, but the truth is that little of the book is given to that. The book begins, as it should, in his childhood and covers his pre-NFL years before the Cowboys and drugs come along. The largest portion is about the years of addiction, partying, etc. Henderson makes sure to be clear about his sexual relationship with anyone famous, again giving it a bragging tone. By the time he starts his slide into poverty and unemployment, it seems certain that the only reason he's written the book is to make some money - his career is over, he's lost everything - not to make sure the rest of the world learns from his mistakes. In fact, 7 women in bed with one guy might just be enough incentive to make some guys think drugs sound like a great idea.
By now, Henderson's written another book, In Control. He's spent years talking to others and has given back far more than he was ever given. For that reason alone, I have hope that the second book is better. This one, though, kinda average tabloid-y junk, but right from the horse's mouth.