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3rd and long: Football books to celebrate the return to the gridiron
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CHARLESTON, S.C. - There's a chill in the air, and while 2020 has changed how we tailgate, friends and families are still finding ways to gather and celebrate their favorite teams, whether it's college or professional.
From the coin flip to that fourth-down, last-second Hail Mary, it seems everyone has a story of a Fall afternoon in the stands or on the sidelines cheering on the home team.
Grab that jersey and face paint, and join us on a trip through the CCPL catalog to find some books to add to your TBR list. Ramon at Cooper River Memorial Library put together a list of books that look back at some of the best stories and biggest names in football.
Let's jump in!
The Blind Side by Michael Lewis
The young man at the center of this extraordinary and moving story will one day be among the most highly paid athletes in the National Football League. When we first meet him, he is one of thirteen children by a mother addicted to crack; he does not know his real name, his father, his birthday, or any of the things a child might learn in school - such as, say, how to read or write. Nor has he ever touched a football.
What changes? He takes up football, and school, after a rich, Evangelical, Republican family plucks him from the mean streets. Their love is the first great force that alters the world\'s perception of the boy, whom they adopt. The second force is the evolution of professional football itself into a game where the quarterback must be protected at any cost. Our protagonist turns out to be the priceless combination of size, speed, and agility necessary to guard the quarterback\'s greatest vulnerability: his blind side.
Jim Brown: The Fierce Life of an American Hero by Mike Freeman
The first, definitive biography of one of the most important, controversial, and outspoken athletes of the 20th century.
He intimidated people on and off the football field. He was brutal yet brilliant, narcissistic yet magnanimous, relentless yet unyielding. Most of all, he was the greatest football player of all time. He was Jim Brown. A legend in his own time, Jim Brown was revered as an athlete, actor, and unflinching symbol of black pride and self-reliance. In this moving book, Mike Freeman offers the first definitive portrait of the sports star. Based on interviews with Brown, his family, friends, and colleagues, Jim Brown is an honest, complete picture of the man and his turbulent times. Part biography, part cultural history, it is a quintessential American tale--a story of adversity, adulation, tenacity, inspiration, and pride.
QB: My Life Behind the Spiral by Steve Young with Jeff Benedict
Steve Young produced some of the most memorable moments in NFL history. "The Run" - his electrifying 49-yard game-winning touchdown against Minnesota. "The Catch II" - his last-second touchdown strike to Terrell Owens to beat Green Bay in the playoffs. Then there was his record-setting, six touchdown passes in Super Bowl XXIX.
But Young's most impressive victories were personal ones that were won off the field when no one was watching. QB is a remarkably revealing memoir of an athletically gifted Mormon boy with a 4.0 GPA, a photographic memory, and a severe case of childhood separation anxiety. At the same time, Young was absolutely fearless - and unstoppable -- whenever he had a ball in his hands.
As an eighth string quarterback at BYU, Young persevered through homesickness and a coach who said he'd never make it as a quarterback because he was a lefty who couldn't throw. Determined to prove his coach wrong, Young became an All-American, finished second in the Heisman voting, and was the top draft choice coming out of college. After signing the largest contract in sports history, he was so overwhelmed by impossible expectations that he nearly walked away from football to become a lawyer. Instead, he ended up in San Francisco, pitted against Joe Montana in what became the greatest quarterback controversy in league history.
Young's quest - both in football and in life - was always more about grit than anything. His "get it done" mentality brought MVP awards and Super Bowl championships to San Francisco. As an author, he gives readers the sense of being inside his helmet while he runs through opponents both on and off the field.
Football for a Buck by Jeff Pearlman
The United States Football League--known fondly to millions of sports fans as the USFL--was the last football league to challenge the NFL while causing its owners and executives to collectively shudder. It spanned three seasons, from 1983 to 1985, secured multiple television deals, drew millions of fans, and launched the careers of legends. But then it died beneath the weight of a particularly egotistical and bombastic owner, a New York businessman named Donald J. Trump. The league featured as many as eighteen teams and included such superstars as Steve Young, Jim Kelly, Herschel Walker, Reggie White, Doug Flutie, and Mike Rozier. In Football for a Buck, dogged reporter and biographer Jeff Pearlman draws on more than four hundred interviews to unearth all the salty, untold stories of one of the craziest sports entities ever to have captivated America. From excess drug use to airplane brawls and player-coach punch-outs, to backroom business deals, to some of the most enthralling and revolutionary football ever seen, Pearlman transports readers back in time to this crazy, boozy, audacious, and unforgettable era of the game. He shows how fortunes were made and lost on the backs of professional athletes, and how, even thirty years ago, Trump was a scoundrel and a spoiler.
Mind and Matter by John Urschel
For John Urschel, what began as an insatiable appetite for puzzles as a child evolved into mastery of the elegant systems and rules of mathematics. By the time he was thirteen, Urschel was auditing college-level calculus courses. But when he joined his high school football team, a new interest began to eclipse the thrill he once felt in the classroom. Football challenged Urschel in an entirely different way, and he became addicted to the physical contact of the sport. Accepting a scholarship to play football at Penn State, Urschel refused to sacrifice one passion for another, and simultaneously pursued his bachelor's and then master's degrees in mathematics. Against the odds, Urschel found a way to manage his double life as a scholar and an athlete, and so when he was drafted to the Baltimore Ravens, he enrolled in his PhD at MIT. Weaving together two separate yet bound narratives, Urschel relives for us the most pivotal moments of his bifurcated life. He explains why, after Penn State was sanctioned for the acts of former coach Jerry Sandusky, he turned his back on offers from Ivy League universities and refused to abandon his team, and contends with his mother's repeated request, at the end of every season, that he quit the sport and pursue a career in rocket science. Perhaps most personally, he opens up about the correlation between football and CTE, and the risks he took for the game he loves. Equally at home with both Bernard Riemann's notion of infinity and Bill Belichick's playbook, Urschel reveals how each challenge - whether on the field or in the classroom - has brought him closer to understanding the two different halves of his own life, and how reason and emotion, the mind and the body, are always working together.
Big Game by Mark Leibovich
A merciless probing of America's biggest cultural force - pro football - at a moment of peak success and high anxiety. Big Game is a journey through an epic storm of corruption and influence - the Deflategate scandal that rocked Leibovich s team, the New England Patriots and star quarterback Tom Brady. Ultimately, this is a chronicle of what may come to be seen as 'peak football' - the high point of the sport's economic success and cultural dominance, but also the moment when it all began to turn.
Montana: The Biography of Football's Joe Cool by Keith Dunnavant
As long as football is played, Joe Montana will be synonymous with the heart-pounding rally. Seemingly impervious to the pressure of a scoreboard deficit, the quarterback known as Joe Cool brought a steadying calm to every huddle, especially when the situation seemed especially dire. His reputation for miracles began to take root at the University of Notre Dame. In the 1979 Cotton Bowl, he overcame the flu, hypothermia and a 22-point deficit to lead the Fighting Irish to a stunning victory over Houston. This narrative continued in the NFL, as he engineered 31 fourth-quarter comebacks, including victories known in professional football lore as The Catch and The Drive, forever casting his career in a heroic glow.
In MONTANA, acclaimed author Keith Dunnavant sketches the definitive portrait of a man who repeatedly defied the odds, on and off the field.
While leading the San Francisco 49ers to four Super Bowl championships over a nine-year period, establishing a new standard for passing efficiency, and twice earning the league's Most Valuable Player award, Montana became the signature quarterback of the 1980s and one of the greatest ever to play the game. Overcoming his own limitations, which caused him to be underrated coming out of Notre Dame, he quickly mastered Bill Walsh's West Coast Offense, and thereby, helped reinvent offensive football.
But it was rarely easy. Like the rallies he so often produced, his life was filled with the sort of tension that made his journey seem routinely dramatic: The father who pushed him. The high school coach who challenged his commitment. The college coach who very nearly squandered him. The back surgery that almost ended his career. The younger athlete who tried to take his job.
Rich an anecdotal detail, insight and context, MONTANA is a powerful story about a man who was defined by his intense competitiveness, and how this intangibly helped him become one of the ionic figures in football history.
Through My Eyes by Tim Tebow
Meet Tim Tebow: He grew up playing every sport imaginable, but football was his true passion. Even from an early age, Tim has always had the drive to be the best player and person that he could be. Through his hard work and determination, he established himself as one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of college football and as a top prospect in the NFL. Now, in Through My Eyes: A Quarterback's Journey, he shares the behind-the-scenes details of his life, on and off the football field. Tim writes about his life as he chooses to live it, revealing how his Christian faith, his family values, and his relentless will to succeed have molded him into the person and the athlete he is today.
Boys Will Be Boys by Jeff Pearlman
Boys Will Be Boys, author Jeff Perlman's rollicking, completely unabashed account of the glory days of "America's Team"--the NFL Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s--was a New York Times bestseller in hardcover and selected by GQ as one of the Best Books of the Year. The uncensored exploits of Michael Irvin, Deion Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman, and the rest of the 'Boys on and off the football field, Boys Will Be Boys makes for riveting, shocking, often wildly hilarious reading.
Driven: From Homeless to Hero, My Journeys on and off Lambeau Field by Donald Driver
The legendary NFL receiver, all-time receptions and yards leader for the Green Bay Packers, and Dancing with the Stars champion looks back on his life and career. Now, in his memoir, Driver recalls what it was like to go from living in a U-Haul trailer with his mom on the streets of Houston to earning a spot on the Packers roster and becoming one of Brett Favre's favorite targets on the way to football stardom. He takes you inside the locker room with legends such as Favre and Reggie White, and recalls his more recent roles as a veteran leader for stars like Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings during the 2010 Super Bowl season and as a Dancing with the Stars winner. A seventh-round draft pick in 1999, Donald Driver was given little chance of making the Packers roster, much less of becoming a 1,000-yard receiver, a beloved icon for one of the NFL's most storied franchises, and a Super Bowl champion. But in a life of adversity, Driver has overcome obstacle after obstacle and has become one of the most popular players in the NFL