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Ex-Rebel Cothren kicking off book tour in Vicksburg Friday

[02/15/01] The plot in Paige Cothren’s latest career has taken a twist. The ex-football star, who later became a counselor and author, has just completed his first novel.

He will kick off his 30-city book tour in Vicksburg Friday at Bookland in Pemberton Square mall 4-7 p.m.

Cothren, who has written 20 non-fiction books, will sign copies of “So Great the Pretender,” his first work of fiction.

“My friends and family encouraged me to write fiction,” said the 65-year-old Cothren, a Natchez native who is a member of Ole Miss’ renowned Poole family.

“Uncle Ray and Buster said, You’re the biggest liar we know. You ought to write a novel,’ ” chuckled Cothren, who, like his uncles, was an All-American at Ole Miss before playing professionally.

But the story of Patie Corbin is not too far removed from the truth.

Cothren draws on his 25 years as a counselor in Memphis to develop the characters and situations and, like the author, Corbin is an ex-NFL player.

“Some of those things I did, but it’s not a veiled autobiography,” Cothren said by telephone on Wednesday.

“But almost everything in the book did happen to me or someone I know.”

Cothren, who was a kicker and halfback for the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles, is best known for “Walk Carefully Around the Dead” and “An Academy Called Pain,” both of which are compilations of true stories about former Ole Miss players’ football days.

“It’s easier writing fiction,” said Cothren, who started the 413-page hardback in June and finished in about eight months. “With the other books, I had to interview people, then translate them from a cassette, refine it, make sure the stories were true … it’s a lot more work.”

Corbin is an established playboy “a typical ex-NFL player,” Cothren says. But after several divorces, he moves to Bay St. Louis at the urging of an ex-Ole Miss teammate who is now with the CIA.

There, Corbin falls in love with the wife of a chemical scientist who is suspected of selling secrets to foreign governments.

The book features action and romance while presenting an in- depth look at the psyche of a retired professional athlete.

Cothren said he published the book himself so he could get it in bookstores as soon as possible. It will be sold in 112 stores in the Mississippi and Memphis area, he said.

Cothren said he hopes the book develops into a series.

“I’ve created this character and there could be sequels,” he said. “If it doesn’t catch on, we’ll have a funeral for him.”