Category Archives: football
NFL Confidential: True Confessions from the Gutter of Football
by Johnny Anonymous
Dey Street Books, 2016
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.
[Review by TWJ contributor Jim.]
Montana: The Biography of Football’s Joe Cool
by Keith Dunnavant
Thomas Dunne Books, 2015
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.
[Review by TWJ contributor Jim.]
Parcells: A Football Life
by Bill Parcells and Nunyo Demasio
Crown Archetype, 2014
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!
by Michael Baumann
Sports Publishing, 2014
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 “it’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.
You Can’t Make This Up
by Al Michaels with L. Jon Wertheim
William Morrow, 2014
[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.
Man Versus Ball
by Jon Hart
Potomac Books, 2013
Bookstores are full of books written by athletes and about athletes. We have been told what it is like to play professional sports, the pressures athletes face, the challenges of living life in the public’s eye on the ballfield. However, I cannot remember ever reading a book written by a vendor before.
Jon Hart’s Man Versus Ball is a brief glimpse inside the life of those other guys working in major league stadiums. Hart accepted the undercover assignment as a journalist, but was so enthralled with the life of a vendor that he worked an entire season at Yankee Stadium, another at Shea, and still another at Citi Field. And that wasn’t enough; Hart spent time in Spring Training as well. Add to that a job as a U.S. Open ball person, an amateur caddie during a PGA tournament, a year in semi-pro football and a couple of seasons as an inline skating basketball player, and you have the highly entertaining Man Versus Ball.
This is not a book for kids, as Hart does not sugarcoat the language heard in the depths of the sports world, but there are several laugh-out-loud passages for the mature reader. As a former vendor myself (ten games at the old Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati), I particularly enjoyed the chapters that followed Hart’s adventures slinging sodas and hawking hot dogs, almost so much that I am thinking about applying for the job at Great American Ballpark this summer. It sounds foolish, but the thought has crossed my mind.
Hart’s book is a reminder to live life to the fullest, no matter what your station in life. Whether you are on the field chasing fly balls or in the stands pushing peanuts, do it with all your might and enjoy it. There is no sense of regret in Man Versus Ball, and there should be no regret in life either.
Jared Lorenzen, injured quarterback for the Northern Kentucky River Monsters, has announced that he is finished playing indoor football. The “Hefty Lefty” said the decision was due in part to his broken leg, but added, “I’m tired of being burned by ownership.” Fort Thomas Matters has the full story.
Fort Thomas Matters broke the news that Jared Lorenzen broke his leg a few days ago, and even has video of the fateful play. This could be a devastating blow to the Northern Kentucky River Monsters, at least publicity-wise, as Lorenzen was the biggest name on the team.
TWJ contributor Patrick quickly sent over a couple of “fun cards” of this season lowlight, using the 1978 and 1979 Fleer football templates for inspiration.
I decided to get in on the action too, pulling from the 1985 Topps football set, one of my favorite card designs of all time regardless of sport.
Another former Highlands High School quarterback, Kyle James, took over for Lorenzen. I still hope to catch a NKRM game this season, but it won’t be the same without the Hefty Lefty on the field.