That smell in the air? It’s the scent of footballs whizzing through the air at a rapid rate. It may still be warm outside but football season is fast upon us. And what better way to celebrate than reading the latest gridiron-related publications out this year? Here are the latest books on our shelves, ready for you to punt over the circulation desk and into your home:
On the Clock: The Story of the NFL Draft by Barry Wilner
From the publisher: “The NFL draft features no action on the field, yet it has become more popular than even NBA and NHL playoff games. InOn the Clock, Barry Wilner and Ken Rappoport chronicle the history of the proceedings. The veteran sportswriters take you from the first grab bag in 1936 through the 2014 draft.”
As Publishers Weekly said of the book, “football fans will be most delighted by the heart of the book, lists of “the bold and beautiful, the fantastics and the flops, in NFL draft history,” including a look at the best and worst picks of each franchise, and separate best and worst lists for quarterbacks, running backs, linebackers, and safeties.”
Is There Life After Football?: Surviving the NFL by James A. Holstein
From the publisher: “In January 2014, President Barack Obama made headlines when he confided to New Yorker reporter Davis Remnick that, if he had a son, he would discourage him from playing in the NFL. “I would not let my son play pro football,” he told the writer. Obama’s words came on the heels of a year of heightened awareness of the life-long consequences of a professional football career. In August 2013, the NFL agreed to a $765 million settlement with over 4,500 retired players seeking damages for head injuries sustained during play. Thousands of others are seeking disability benefits in the State of California for on-field injuries. But the possibility of lifelong disability is not the only problem facing professional football players after their playing careers—often brief to begin with—come to an end. Many players, having spent years focusing on football, find themselves at sea when they either leave or are forced out ofthe NFL, without any alternate life plans or even the resources to make them.
From the publisher: “Trailblazing Seattle Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman Jr.—the first deaf athlete to play offense in the NFL—tells his inspirational journey of persevering through every obstacle, remaining dedicated to the hard work and a no-excuses attitude that ultimately earned him a Super Bowl victory. Great for readers of all ages. Even at a young age, if anyone told Derrick Coleman what he couldn’t do, he’d just reply, “Watch me.” Diagnosed as hearing-impaired at age three, he faced a potentially limited future, but neither he nor his family were going to let that happen. Now Derrick shares the story of his remarkable journey toward NFL stardom, of the friends and colleagues who cheered him on when skeptics tried to chip away at his confidence, and of how every challenge he faced only strengthened his resolve.
At the heart of his story is his unconventional family, whose one constant was always love. When Derrick was misunderstood as “difficult,” or bullied and laughed at by schoolmates, he removed his hearing aids and listened instead to his mother’s advice: Never let anyone else tell you how far you can go. Playing football became an outlet for Derrick’s restless energy and a way of proving he could forge his own path. As a senior at UCLA, he became a standout, an award-winning player who led his team with eleven touchdowns and demonstrated to the world what his heart had known all along: He had what it took to be a champion.”
Concussion Inc.: The End of Football As We Know It by Irvin Muchnick
From the publisher: “Traumatic brain injury in football is not incidental, but an inevitable and central aspect of the sport. Starting in high school, through college, and into the NFL, young players face repeated head trauma, and those sustained injuries create lifelong cognitive and functional difficulties. Muchnick’s Concussion Inc. blog exposed the decades-long cover-up of scientific research into sports concussions and the ongoing denial to radically reform football in North America. This compilation from Muchnick’s no-holds-barred investigative website reveals the complete head injury story as it developed, from the doctor who played fast and loose with the facts about the efficacy of the state-mandated concussion management system for high school football players, to highly touted solutions that are more self-serving cottage industry than of any genuine benefit.
Known for extensive reporting on the tragic story of the Chris Benoit murder-suicide, Muchnick turns his investigative analysis to traumatic brain injury and probes deep into the corporate, government, and media corruption that has enabled the $10-billion-a-year National Football League to trigger a public health crisis.”
And while they aren’t out yet, consider placing a hold on these upcoming football-centric titles:
Stagg vs. Yost: The Birth of Cutthroat Football by John Kryk
From the publisher: “This book brings to life the story of two college football coaches in the early 1900s who would do almost anything to win—Amos Alonzo Stagg of the University of Chicago and Fielding H. Yost of the University of Michigan. It recounts their bitter rivalry and the lengths each went to in order to gain victory on the football field.”
As LJ Reviews said of the book, “VERDICT: Essential reading for those interested in the early history of college football.”
The Last Season: A Father, a Son, and a Lifetime of College Football by Stuart Stevens
From the publisher: “Fathers, sons, and sports are enduring themes of American literature. Here, in this fresh and moving account, a son returns to his native South to spend a special autumn with his ninety-five-year-old dad, sharing the unique joys, disappointments, and life lessons of Saturdays with their beloved Ole Miss Rebels.
After growing up in Jackson, Stuart Stevens built a successful career as a writer and political consultant. But in the fall of 2012, not long after he turned sixty, the presidential campaign he’d worked on suffered a painful defeat. Grappling with a profound sense of loss and mortality, he began asking himself some tough questions, not least about his relationship with his father. The two of them had spent little time together for decades. He made a resolution: to invite his father to attend a season of Ole Miss football games together, as they’d done when college football provided a way for his father to guide him through childhood—and to make sense of the troubled South of the 1960s. Now, driving to and from the games, and cheering from the stands, they take stock of their lives as father and son, and as individuals, reminding themselves of their unique, complicated, precious bond.
Poignant and full of heart, but also irreverent and often hilarious, The Last Season is a powerful story of parents and children and of the importance of taking a backward glance together while you still can.”
When It Was Just a Game: Remembering the First Super Bowl by Harvey Frommer
From the publisher: “Written by acclaimed sports author and oral historian Harvey Frommer and with an introduction by pro football Hall of Famer Frank Gifford,When It Was Just a Game tells the fascinating story of the ground-breaking AFL–NFL World Championship Football game played on January 15, 1967: Packers vs. Chiefs.”
As Publishers Weekly said of the book, “Frommer’s well-researched account tells how the controversial merger of the two leagues, under Commissioner Pete Rozelle’s stewardship, developed American football from 14 NFL teams in 1965 to a combined 24 teams in 1966. Frommer also highlights the eccentric character of the opposing coaches, the tough Packers head Vince Lombardi and the strutting Hank Stram, as they piloted their teams, the bigger Chiefs against the more experienced Packers, to a 35-10 victory for the latter. This complete overview of the mythic first Super Bowl is a win for all football fans.”
Three-Week Professionals: Inside the 1987 NFL Players’ Strike by Ted Kluck
From the publisher: “In 1987 NFL players went on strike, demanding better pay and the right to seek free agency. Determined to keep the league going, teams pulled replacements from wherever they could—from the semi-pros to bar stools, in order to create makeshift teams. Three-Week Professionals: Inside the 1987 NFL Players’ Strike finally tells their stories.”
Said LJ Reviews of the book, “VERDICT: A short, enjoyable book on a niche topic of interest to professional football fans.”