Date Published: February 23, 2023
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
In the twilight of his NFL career as a middle linebacker for the Chicago Storm, Mike “the Steelman” Stalowski masks his physical pain and mental anguish with alcohol and painkillers. The fan favorite has a rebel image and a notorious reputation, and he plays a violent gridiron game fueled by inner rage.
While estranged from his wife and living in the fishbowl environment of professional sports, he unexpectedly meets the fresh-out-of-college Kim Richardson. She sees through Mike’s star persona to who he really is—a kind guy from the Southeast Side of Chicago who has never forgotten his humble blue-collar roots. The lives of the star-crossed, seemingly mismatched couple collide during a whirlwind romance that culminates in a tragic series of events.
The Walk-On is a timeless tale of love and loss that explores the consequences of personal decisions and the rewards of faith, redemption, and hope.
“An interesting read where star linebacker Mike Stalowski confronts the inevitable challenges every NFL player faces as they transition to their post-football life. His experiences may seem exaggerated, but they are still very real.”
Gary Fencik, Chicago Bears, Super Bowl XX Champion
“Despite his NFL fame and bad-boy attitude and antics, I empathized with the humble guy from a blue-collar background fighting painful emotional and physical demons. . .Ultimately, The Walk-On is an incredible story of love and loss, with faith and mentorship fostering hope for the future.”
Bill Rancic, Author of the New York Times bestseller, You’re Hired
“Just like the protagonist’s very fast sports car, The Walk-On will leave you, from the very first paragraph, just a little breathless as you navigate all the sharp turns that come fast and furious at the reader. . .”
Jean Becker, Author of the New York Times bestseller, The Man I Knew: The Amazing Story of George H. W. Bush's Post-Presidency
“The Walk-On is a fascinating story of self-sabotage and redemption. A page-turner!!!!”
Mary Pat Kelly, Bestselling author of Galway Bay, Of Irish Blood, and Irish Above All
Podkowski's writing style is smooth and easy to follow. I really enjoyed the storyline, it made for a well-rounded read.
The characters are well-developed and sympathetic. There is no cartoon black and white but realistic handling of events.
It's a journey and a well done one.
About the Author
Richard Podkowski, a native of Chicago’s South Side, began writing fiction while studying criminal justice at Loyola University Chicago.
As a United States Secret Service special agent, Richard protected U.S. presidents and foreign dignitaries and investigated major domestic and international financial crimes. After retiring from the Secret Service in 2003 as a supervisory special agent, he became a management member of a Fortune 100 company's global security group. For the last several years, Richard has been a private sector strategic security consultant.
Inspired by professional athletes who lived in a fishbowl under constant media scrutiny and made life-altering mistakes, Richard wrote The Walk-On. Other projects include a holiday rom-com manuscript and a crime story. In his free time, Richard enjoys riding his road bike, working out, and making Christmas ornaments. He currently resides with his family in Los Angeles.
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