The NFL and Thomas Pynchon made the news in the book world this week

CONS’ GAMES? Baseball may have had a banner year, but things aren’t looking so good for basketball — or for football. In Warner’s just-out Pros and Cons: The Criminals Who Play in the NFL, Jeff Benedict and Don Yaeger argue that 21 percent of the players in the NFL have been charged with a serious crime, from the Atlanta Falcons’ Cornelius Bennett (who served time for sexual misconduct) to the St. Louis Rams’ Ryan Tucker (who received a suspended sentence for aggravated assault). ”The NFL says they’ve got a crime policy,” says Benedict. ”They don’t enforce it.” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello believes the authors got their statistics wrong. ”There are approximately 2,500 players going through our league each year,” he says, ”and fortunately the overwhelming majority are good citizens.”

HE’S PYNCHON HIMSELF It’s the stuff literary legends are made of. As the story goes, reclusive author Thomas Pynchon called London bus driver Magnus Mills and hailed his debut novel, The Restraint of Beasts, as a ”demented, deadpan comic wonder.” Pynchon’s first endorsement in years stirred up media attention that peaked with Mills’ nomination for England’s prestigious Booker Prize. Though he lost to Ian McEwan’s Amsterdam, Mills’ story is still a publicist’s dream. Only it’s not quite true. Pynchon ”didn’t ring me directly; that was something the press whipped up,” he says. What really happened was that his U.S. editor, Tim Bent, sent Pynchon an advance copy of Restraint on a whim, and Pynchon mailed in a blurb. Of his newfound fame, Mills says: ”My wife says I’m too much of a prima donna. [That] I’m a bus driver, I’ve done it for 12 years, and therefore I should just put up with it.”