Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Are You Ready for Some Football?

Basketball may be “Indiana’s Game,” but we love football almost as much.  And with a premier team like the Indianapolis Colts in our neighborhood, it makes us love the sport even more.  After a rough start, Indy now has a 4-2 record.

The NFL is an elite club.  At any one time, there are only about 1,700 players in the league, and those players make an average of nearly two million dollars.  When we are able to go behind the scenes of the sport, it can be pretty interesting.

The cover of “Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile” pictures the author, Nate Jackson, face down on the turf.  In his career, Nate represented the hundreds to players who did not reach the level of super-stardom.  He was one of the players who fought through tenures on the practice squad to finally make it as a starter in the league.  

What price football?  Nate talks about debilitating physical injuries, including brain trauma, which young men risk to play in the NFL.  With all the recent attention given to NFL players with brain injuries, this book has a unique perspective on how the players deal (or don’t deal) with the very real possibility of disability after their NFL career.

In 2011, Nick Dawidoff was given unfettered access to the New York Jets.  This experience led to“Collision Low Crossers: Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football”.  The focus of this tale is head coach Rex Ryan and his coaching staff.  How did this staff coax the best out of their players?  How did the staff rein in the uncontainable coach?  You’ll find out in the pages of this book.  Recently Rex Ryan has acknowledged that his job is on the line.  Read the inside story of how he does his job, as Dawidoff goes from the early days of the February, 2011 scouting combine to the coaches “post mortem” at the end of the season.  

“Monsters: 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football” is the story of this team's lone championship season.  What a unique blend of personalities!  There was crazy quarterback Jim McMahon, quiet leader Walter “Sweetness” Peyton, and William "Refrigerator" Perry.  Rex Ryan’s dad Buddy was the defensive coordinator, and then there was “Iron Mike” Ditka, the mercurial head coach.  

All these characters melded to make one unforgettable year on and off the field.  The book not only details that season, but goes back in history to explain how the team and city made it to that pivotal year.  The story unfortunately ends, as so many Chicago sports stories do, with the downfall of the Bears team.  

It's been almost 30 years since that season, but who can forget the guys who brought us the "Super Bowl Shuffle"?  It was far from musical masterpiece, but it was sure fun.  And isn't that what the game is all about?

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