Monday, August 14, 2006

Gear of The Week: America's Game

My selection for Gear of The Week is nothing less than essential reading for any fan of the National Football League. America’s Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured A Nation is not only a sprawling 450-page history of the game and the league, but also a rip-roaring yarn spun by a brilliant author, Michael MacCambridge.

Consider this excerpt from the very first paragraph, describing the benchmark 1958 Giants v. Colts overtime championship game: “As the sun went down over Yankee Stadium, a series of thunderclap roars filled the sky, and the crowd surged forward, raucous and intent. The arc lights shone down on the field…shimmering off the dark blue helmets of the New York Giants, and bathing the white uniforms of the Baltimore Colts in an ethereal glow.”

Are you hooked yet? I was. Beginning with the formative wartime years of the National Football League, through the NFL – AFL merger and up to the modern era, this book charts the ascent of pro football to the throne of American sports. Of this book, Sports Illustrated said: “Amazing…MacCambridge is a master storyteller.” I have to agree.

At the core of the book is a profound respect for the game, for those who built it and those who follow it. Writes MacCambridge: “Like the best of the arts, pro football worked on multiple levels…For those with a deeper interest, the game could exist on a larger canvas---as a morality play; a cultural metaphor; a crucible of values in which teamwork, sacrifice and dedication were rewarded, while selfishness, cowardice and sloth were harshly punished. What those who were contemptuous of sports misunderstood was not merely that a middle-class sports fan might revere football to the same degree that an inveterate theatergoer revered Shakespeare, but that he might do so for many of the same reasons.”

Take that, culture snobs! As you can imagine, Al Davis makes many appearances in this book. I could say more, but I won’t spoil it for you.

The bottom line is that if you love reading about football, and you don’t have this book, I recommend that you put it at the top of your list as we head into the 2006 season.

Click here to buy America's Game new at Amazon for just $9.75.


Post a Comment

<< Home