I was known in Vegas as the Jammer. My real name is Jack Molloy, which most football fans know as well as the point spread by now. But nobody on the Strip ever called me Jack for long. If you've ever been on the Strip and don't know me or what I used to do there, then you're the new target audience for the Chamber of Commerce, which wants to turn the place into some kind of Disney wet dream.
You want to bring the wife and kids on the four-day, three-night weekend package and say things like, "Jesus, Myrtle, an indoor volcano!"
People say now that Las Vegas was more fun before they tried to de-Bugsy it, make it more wholesome for a new millennium than Kathie Lee's kids. But the fun was still out there for you once you got past room service. You just had to know the right people.
"Jammer," my boss Billy Grace liked to say, "you're one of the last guys left who don't think having a cocktail and getting a hard-on are against the law."
I'd always tell him to stop then, he was starting to make me blush. Of course that was before the National Football League in general and the NewYork Hawks in particular took me hostage, as if pro football was the guys with the towels on their heads and I was the U.S. Embassy.
I'll get to that in a minute.
If you want to know the whole story of my season in tabloid hell, how it happened that I became as well known as Jerry Jones or George Steinbrenner or any of those other celebrity owners, you have to know where it all started, and it started when I was still the Jammer.
My official title at Billy Grace's hotel, known as Amazing Grace, was Casino Host. It's like saying Michael Jordan's position was guard. I was Billy's go-to guy. Some reporter from the Las Vegas Sun once asked him what I did and Billy said, "Whatever it is, he's indispensable." Sometimes Billy-who wanted to be the king of Vegas as much as Kirk Kerkorian and Steve Wynn ever did-just described me as his Director of Logistics.
I set up what needed to be set up, arranged what needed to be arranged, fixed what needed to be fixed. I didn't particularly want to know if you were a good guy or a bad guy, just if you had money in your pocket and wanted to spend it in Billy's bar or at Billy's tables.
If you were staying at Amazing Grace and needed to be hooked up, I was your man. And let me explain something right here, just so there are no misunderstandings. When I say hooked up, I don't mean hookers. Though I must say that most of the working girls I know, especially the ones in Vegas, are a much better class of people than a lot of the high rollers and socialite scum I've met in what has passed for my adult life.
When I say hook you up, I mean just that, whether it's a tee time at Billy's golf course-God's Acre-or the best odds on the Georgia-Florida game, or a showgirl who'd not only laugh and look at you the way Siegfried always looked at Roy, but who wouldn't ask you for five hundred dollars afterward to help out with her acting classes.
The real tourists and the amateurs still had this idea that Vegas was some kind of high-class whorehouse. I never looked at it that way, not from the first day Billy brought me out from New York. I always looked at Amazing Grace as the world's classiest frat house, one with so many good-looking women around, you thought they'd put blackjack tables in Hugh Hefner's grotto.
Say a star athlete is in town for a big prizefight and he wants to play God's Acre. Billy'd had it built because he just had to have a better course than Shadow Creek, which was Wynn's pride and joy before he sold it to Kerkorian, along with The Mirage, a few years ago. Maybe you remember, it was one of those periods when you got the idea that everything and everybody in town was suddenly on the market.
Reprinted from Bump & Run by Mike Lupica by permission of G.P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright (c) 2000 by Mike Lupica. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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