5 Best Books About Football Update 05/2022

Books About Football

A great book about football this summer? Chris Wesseling, our resident bookworm, has chosen 10 football books for you to read this summer. You can add them to your summer reading list.

A Fan’s Notes, Frederick Exley, 1968

A Fan's Notes, Frederick Exley, 1968

Fred Exley said that four decades before it was common to look up one’s own name, he was sad “Like my father, I had to be in the stands with most men and praise others. My father had to hear the roar of the crowd. Because I was born to be a fan, it was my fate, my destiny, and my end.”

Professional sports are the best place for the insider to be. People who are very good at sports will be famous, rich, and popular if they are willing to follow society’s rules and give up their egos for the good of the team. During high school, Exley was only able to play a little football. He was the ultimate outsider, with alcoholism, depression, and feelings of inadequacy because his father’s name was whispered in “reverential tones,” which made him feel bad. Hunter S. Thompson, a well-known gonzo journalist, was in awe of this “fictional memoir,” which he called a “one-hit wonder.” It was full of honesty and candor that left him speechless.

Bernard Malumud’s description of sports in The Natural and Richard Ford’s in The Sportswriter are two of the best in American literature. Exley’s description of sports is at the top of this list. Late New York Giants player Frank Gifford is the hero to Exley’s anti-hero, as the author talks about important and weighty things in his book “No one has written more insightfully about how Americans live vicariously through the exploits of the “heroes” of sport,” a book critic once said. “Or about how capriciously ‘fame’ can be given or taken away.”

Exley’s book, “A Fan’s Notes,” has become an underground cult classic. It has turned former jocks with a literary bent into fervent preachers, handing out dog-eared, annotated copies of the book to other people who aren’t like them.

America’s Game, The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured a Nation, Michael MacCambridge, 2005

For the first time, Forbes has put the Dallas Cowboys franchise value at $4 billion. There was a time when the NFL was a “localized sport based on gate receipts and played by oversized coal miners and West Texas psychopaths.” Then, it became America’s favorite sport. That’s the main point of MacCambridge’s book, which is the definitive history of the National Football League before the 1958 Championship Game and the rise of TV. Before that, the NFL was an afterthought in the sporting landscape. Pete Rozelle, the NFL’s commissioner at the time, was a visionary. He put “league think” above personal interests, and the NFL rose to the top.

MacCambridge focuses mostly on owners, coaches, and legendary players, weaving the NFL’s story through the sociological and cultural backdrop of the 20th century in a way that shows how the league evolved. Beginners, casual football fans, and true fans will all enjoy this book. It tells the story of a sport that has gone from being a fun thing to do on a Sunday afternoon to a huge thing that dominates the news all year long.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Ben Fountain, 2012

Ben Fountain won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction with his first book, which is a small slice of George W. Bush’s Texas and an increasingly disillusioned Pat Tillman’s America during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Folio Fountain is an uproarious and razor-sharp look at “the sheltering womb of all things American,” which includes football and Thanksgiving and “about eight different kinds of police and security personnel, plus 300 million well-wishing fellow citizens.” Fountain’s writing is full of fluid prose and sharp metaphors. He also has a great sense of dialogue and an uncanny ability to see things that other people don’t. Fountain’s book has been compared to Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22” because it talks about war in an irreverent way. But the football sections at Texas Stadium are like Hunter S. Thompson’s gonzo-style satire of the drunken Kentucky Derby crowd, which Fountain also talks about.

The novel covers a single day, starting with a tour of the stadium before the game, then the NFL’s Thanksgiving Day show with the Dallas Cowboys, and ending with the aftermath. When Fountain talks about modern America’s “nightmare of over-abundance,” he uses the over-the-top halftime show by Destiny’s Child as an example. Fountain says that the show was “porn-lite out of its mind on martial dope.”

Fountain’s best lines: blaming a football break on “the pontifical ceremony of instant-replay reviews”; wondering if “maybe the game is just an ad for the ads”; and wondering when “America became a giant mall with a country attached,” among other things.

Fountain didn’t just show how much Americans love sports. Also, he wrote one of the best books of the 21st century, which is why he is so important. If you don’t believe me, look at the reviews of “The Kite Runner” author Khaled Hosseini: “I thought the whole time I was reading the book, “Oh my God, why did you keep writing?” After this, the whole thing is pointless.”

A Thinking Man’s Guide to Pro Football, Paul Zimmerman, 1970 and 1984

A Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football, Paul Zimmerman, 1970 and 1984

Zimmerman, a writer for Sports Illustrated, is known as “Dr. Z.” He was the first NFL writer to write about game-film analysis on a regular basis in his stories. As a player on the offensive line at Stanford and Columbia, Zimmerman went on to play in the minor leagues in the early 1960s. During his writing career, which was cut short by a series of strokes in 2008, the Pro Football Writers’ Association came up with the Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman Award to honor assistant coaches in the NFL who have made a difference in the league for the rest of their lives.

He kept track of every player on the field before Bill James made sabermetrics popular in baseball and Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus made analytics popular in football. Zimmerman even kept track of elapsed hang time, distance, return yards, and coffin-corner efficiency for punters! It took him 15 years to write two books for football fans who think about the game. They go far beyond detailed descriptions of each position on the field. People who know about football strategy like Zimmerman were able to put famous players and legendary coaches into historical context. Zimmerman also had a lot of connections and was very knowledgeable about the game.

He doesn’t just write about football for people who love football. His style isn’t just for people who love football. Sid Gillman, a former offensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers, tried to convince assistant coach Bum Phillips that watching a piece of game film was better than having sex. I don’t know how to watch movies or you don’t know how to have sex.

Finding the Winning Edge, Bill Walsh, 1997

Good luck finding a copy of Bill Walsh’s best book on coaching for less than $200. As it turns out there are leather-bound, signed editions of the book that can sell for more than $1,000! Walk into the office of an NFL coach or front-office executive, and there’s a good chance you will see a copy that has been used a lot. There are more highlights than white space. At least a few coaches across the country have been reading the 36,000 copies that were sold in 1997.

Walsh wanted to make a book that would be a playbook, coaching manual, leadership compendium, and roster plan all in one. Walsh told his son, “It’s not a sports book.” In other words, “It is a thesis.” The 550 pages are sometimes dry and dense. Walsh wrote down 29 things that could help you figure out if a player has a drug problem. But at the end of the day, it succeeds as a piece of history that has helped improve the art of coaching and team building in the NFL.

“It wouldn’t be fair to say that it was amazing. For a coach, the Bible is important “Bill Belichick, a great Patriots coach, told Yahoo’s Charles Robinson nearly a decade ago that he thought the Patriots were great. “If I were the owner, I’d read that book first. Then I would make that book a must-read for my head coach, general manager, or any other important person in my football team.”

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