Category Archives: football

Goodbye, Jared Lorenzen

(February 14, 1981 – July 3, 2019)

Lorenzen

Former University of Kentucky and New York Giants quarterback Jared Lorenzen passed away today from an acute infection complicated by heart and kidney problems. He was 38. He was also a graduate of Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Kentucky, a few years after me. The card above was created by TWJ contributor Patrick several years ago.

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Wacky Wednesday Cardboard

These cards definitely do not fit into my collection, but I was intrigued enough to plop down a couple bucks for them.

OJ and Howard Cosell

In 1994 the Interlink News Service produced a 50-card set called “In Pursuit of Justice” chronicling the O.J. Simpson case. There are cards from Simpson’s playing career, broadcasting career, and acting career, along with cards featuring some of the lawyers involved and news coverage. And a card of the Juice with Brian Bosworth.

Bosworth

It’s a really weird set.

OJ at NBC

There are also a couple of cards of the television coverage. I remember watching the chase in a friend’s basement on June 17, 1994, just a few weeks after my high school graduation. For the youngsters out there, television screens back in the mid-’90s were nothing like they are today. Taking a photograph of a television screen didn’t result in the clearest picture.

CNN Bronco chase

The backs of the cards are colorful, but not particularly interesting.

OJ case

You may be cynical like me and think these cards were merely to profit from the high-profile case, but the back indicates that Interlink intended to donate part of the money from these sets “to support the prevention of domestic violence and benefit shelters for abused women and children.” I had never seen these cards before, but I hope enough were sold to make a sizable donation to that cause.

Funko rules the world, y’all

The Office Funko Pop

I have been following Funko‘s various social media accounts as they reveal upcoming releases at Comic Cons and Toy Fairs. A lot of great stuff on deck, including characters from The Office, Office Space, The Lion King, *NSync, and more.

Shazam Funko Pop

I think the one I am anticipating more than any other is Shazam. I’m a huge Zachary Levi fan, and the trailer for the movie looks hilarious, so this one is definitely going to be added to my collection at some point this year.

But if you’re not into comic book movies or sitcoms or Disney or boybands, never fear…Funko will continue to produce sports-themed Funko Pops in 2019. MLB, NFL, and NASCAR are all among the upcoming releases. Even Muhammad Ali and Babe Ruth are a part of the 2019 roster.

It really doesn’t matter what you’re into. Funko has you covered. Wheel of Fortune? Check. Dawson’s Creek? You bet. Sanford & Son? Yep. Funko has it all.

Unless you want figures from The Greatest American Hero or Edgar Allan Poe. Still waiting for those…

Greatest American Hero

Edgar Allan Poe

The Moeller Show

Twice a year, a card show is hosted in the Moeller High School gymnasium. Moeller is the alma mater of two Baseball Hall of Famers, Barry Larkin and Ken Griffey Jr. I attended this show for the first time in November, 2008, and got my first Dave Parker autograph. I’m not sure why it took me a decade to go back, but last weekend my youngest son and I hit the show. No autographs this time around, just cards on the cheap, such as these Reds legends for a quarter each…

1985 Circle K baseball cards

Rose

Junior

Seaver no-hitter

Groh

Frank Robinson, Pete Rose, Junior Griffey, Tom Seaver, and Heinie Groh, thank you very much.

I also got a quartet of Gypsies for a quarter each as well…

2018 GQ

If I had more wall space, I would love to add some Heroes of Yesterday artwork by Steve Douglas to my collection. But I’m not going to buy something and let it collect dust in my closet, when it could be enjoyed by someone else hanging on their wall. But Mr. Douglas was giving out business cards which featured artwork as well, and I took one featuring Chris Sabo

Heroes of Yesterday

If you have a mancave and want to add a little originality to the walls, check out Heroes of Yesterday for some pretty cool pieces.

Of course, I grabbed a handful of non-Reds cards also. From Gypsy Queen, I scored Zack Cozart and Chris Archer for ten cents each…

2018 GQ

And Magic Johnson for a quarter…

Magic

And the entire 1989 Pro Set Football Final Update series…21 cards…for a quarter…

1989 Pro Set

I really miss Pro Set. I miss the fun NFL. I hope the XFL lives up to the hype and restores my interest in football.

I’m not going to wait another ten years to go back to the Moeller Show, but I don’t think I’ll wait until the last day to go, either. A lot of dealers had already packed up and left, and I’m sure those who remained were picked through pretty thoroughly before I got there. It was still fun, though, and I was happy with the cards I added to my collection.

NFL Confidential: True Confessions from the Gutter of Football by Johnny Anonymous (2016)

NFL Confidential

NFL Confidential: True Confessions from the Gutter of Football
by Johnny Anonymous
Dey Street Books, 2016
256 pages

Purportedly written by an offensive lineman who was thrust into the starting lineup, only to find his job yanked away from him when a veteran returned from injury, NFL Confidential is like peeking into a pro locker room through the eyes of a bitter, confused, arrogant backup player. “Johnny Anonymous” claims to hate the NFL and all the politics of the game, but when he finds himself taking snaps as a starter, he plays along just fine. He rediscovers his love for football, but continues to spew hatred toward the people that allow him to play.

The author mocks his teammates and his coaches, whines about the physical aspects of training camp and practice, and fantasizes about being cut so he can find something else to do with his life. This is not so much an exposé of the league as it the infantile rantings of an ungrateful athlete. He drops the “f-bomb” far too often to be taken seriously, and comes off as a fool who simply doesn’t realize how good he’s got it.

The copyright page states that the “book is not authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved in any manner by the National Football League.” Certainly there are some harsh things said about the NFL within the pages, but it’s nothing I haven’t heard before. This is just the first time it has come from a player and not a journalist or superfan.

And who exactly is the author, “Johnny Anonymous”? The prevailing theory online seems to be David Molk, offensive lineman for the Philadelphia Eagles. Not all of the characteristics fit, but it must be remembered that “names, physical characteristics and other identifying details have been changed, and in some cases composite characters created, to protect the privacy and anonymity of the individuals involved.” It will certainly be interesting to see if Molk has a job next season, especially if it is revealed that he is the actual author.

There are a few parts of NFL Confidential that are somewhat interesting, but overall it felt like a chore to read and I felt wholly apathetic toward this poor rich man’s plight. If we could all be so unfortunate to make hundreds of thousands of dollars to do, as he proudly admits while begging for our sympathy, nothing.

Learn more about Dey Street Books.

Purchase NFL Confidential: True Confessions from the Gutter of Football by Johnny Anonymous.

Montana: The Biography of Football’s Joe Cool by Keith Dunnavant (2015)

[Review by TWJ contributor Jim.]

Montana biography

Montana: The Biography of Football’s Joe Cool
by Keith Dunnavant
Thomas Dunne Books, 2015
336 pages

Joe Montana is one of the biggest name in sports, in the world. Ask a kid who follow’s Manchester United in Manchester England and he is still going to know who Joe Montana is. As a Bengals fan in early 1989, I remember watching Super Bowl 23 with my family and feeling the “pain” of a Joe Montana comeback leading the 49ers to a crushing Super Bowl win over my beloved Bengals. The Bengals have never been close again.

In Montana: The Biography of Football’s Joe Cool, you get to know the history and the behind the scenes stories of some of Joe’s biggest comebacks and victories. Keith Dunnavant does a great job of laying out the great history of Joe Montana without overdoing it with game by game details. He starts off with Joe as a child and takes you, year by year, through his great NFL career, concluding in Kansas City. I was especially interested in hearing the details of his battle on the field with his Hall of Fame backup in San Francisco, Steve Young. I especially enjoyed the details of his brief time with the Chiefs. Although he didn’t win a Super Bowl there, he showed that he was still a great quarterback able to win football games. It’s a great, easy read, you’ll have a hard time putting this one down.

Learn more about Thomas Dunne Books.

Purchase Montana: The Biography of Football’s Joe Cool by Keith Dunnavant.

Parcells: A Football Life by Bill Parcells and Nunyo Demasio (2014)

[Review by TWJ contributor Jim.]

Parcells

Parcells: A Football Life
by Bill Parcells and Nunyo Demasio
Crown Archetype, 2014
544 pages

Whether you follow football or not, you know the name Bill Parcells. He is a Hall of Fame coach with a big personality and was always good at providing a good audio clip when talking to the media. Wouldn’t it be interesting to get a behind the scenes look at this complex man and what makes him tick? You have your chance now, as you follow him from his upbringing in northern New Jersey to the day he was inducted into the pro football Hall of Fame.

In Parcells: A Football Life, you will get a behind the scenes look of Duane “Bill” Parcells and his life and career in football. Stories like how standing up to a neighborhood bully as a child shaped his conviction to be confrontational, as it clears the air. You’ll also hear about his friendships with such men as Bob Knight, Jerry Jones, Leon Hess and many, many others. You’ll hear about a game early in the career of Knight, when he was coaching at Army, and as they were leaving, Parcells, there supporting his friend as a fan, punched out a fan trying to hit Knight. Then Knight and his team form a protective “bubble” around him as they leave the gym and the police looking for him. There are many many other good stories in this book, good luck trying to put it down!

Learn more about Crown Archetype.

Purchase Parcells: A Football Life by Bill Parcells and Nunyo Demasio.

Philadelphia Phenoms by Michael Baumann (2014)

philphenoms

Philadelphia Phenoms
by Michael Baumann
Sports Publishing, 2014
256 pages

Every city that fields professional sports teams takes pride in the greatest players on those teams. Some cities, such as Philadelphia, are fortunate enough to have professional teams in multiple sports. Michael Baumann makes it his task to identify the “most amazing athletes to play in the city of Brotherly Love” in Philadelphia Phenoms. Whether wearing the uniform of the Phillies, Eagles, 76ers, or Flyers, there is no shortage of athletic prowess in Philadelphia.

There are some very obvious selections: Mike Schmidt, Julius Erving, Reggie White, and Wilt Chamberlain are all present. Older stars that may be overlooked by younger fans, such as Robin Roberts, Richie Ashburn, and Chuck Bednarik are also discussed. The most interesting chapter, however, focuses on the Phillies’ current second baseman, Chase Utley.

Baumann makes a compelling argument for including Utley rather than his contemporaries Jimmy Rollins or Ryan Howard. According to Baumann, Utley is among the ten best athletes in Philadelphia history, one of the ten best second basemen ever in all of baseball, and the second-best Philadelphia position player behind Schmidt. Part of the author’s argument stems from the fact that Utley does everything well, but does not particularly stand out in any one area. However, from 2005-2009, Utley has the second-best WAR in the National League (five points behind Albert Pujols), and is a full 12.3 points ahead of third-place David Wright. Baumann writes that “œit’s utterly bizarre for a player like Utley, someone who played for good teams in a big media market, got his jersey dirty, played hard, and posted spectacular seasons to be underrated, but here we are.” It will be interesting to see how Hall of Fame voters deal with Chase Utley’s career when it comes time to decide whether he belongs in Cooperstown.

Philadelphia Phenoms is, first and foremost, a book for fans of the teams and players in that city. However, general sports fans will also find some interesting anecdotes and conversation starters in Baumann’s writing.

Learn more about Sports Publishing.

Purchase Philadelphia Phenoms by Michael Baumann.

You Can’t Make This Up by Al Michaels with L. Jon Wertheim (2014)

al michaels you cant make this up

You Can’t Make This Up
by Al Michaels with L. Jon Wertheim
William Morrow, 2014
304 pages

[Review by new TWJ contributor Jim. We are excited to have Jim as a part of the TWJ team, and look forward to future reviews!]

When I saw Al Michaels had written a book, I knew I would have to get my hands on a copy to hear all the great stories he had to tell. I was not disappointed in the least. Al was flawless in relaying hundreds of stories over his career and beforehand as well. Born to a loving mother and father in Brooklyn, Al never had to eat vegetables and grew up watching the Dodgers at Ebbets Field after attending school n the morning because the school was too crowded for him to go all day. Then he moved to Los Angeles and attended Arizona State University to develop his broadcasting skills.

Of his many stories, one of the highlights for me was him talking about his first impression of Cincinnati when he arrived. He was the broadcaster of a minor league team in Hawaii before he came to Cincinnati, so he was taken aback by the winter scenery. He also felt that living in the great state of Kentucky was a little too much of a step back from Hawaii. He tells of a time when Reds broadcaster Joe Nuxhall cussed out some players who were playing a joke on him and it went out on the broadcast. Growing up listening to Nuxhall, I laughed, picturing him doing something like that. All in all, You Can’t Make This Up is a great book for any sports fan. Al has experiences in many different sports, so there is something for everyone.

Learn more about William Morrow.

Purchase You Can’t Make This Up by Al Michaels.

R.I.P. Chuck Noll

(January 5, 1932 – June 13, 2014)

Chuck Noll

Legendary football coach Chuck Noll passed away yesterday from natural causes. Pittsburgh’s head coach for 23 years, Noll led the Steelers to 12 playoff appearances and four Super Bowl victories.

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