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Football is back!
Whether that means gambling, fantasy, survivor pools or simply watching games for you (do people just watch games anymore?) if you love the sport, then let me recommend some of my favorite NFL biographies by some of the best writers around.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but I figured I’d recommend a few books on the most iconic coaches and running backs to start.
Maybe I’ll do a quarterbacks-only list later in the season. Interested? Let me know.
Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton by Jeff Pearlman
Growing up in the 80s and 90s Walter Payton was the Michael Jordan of football. He was a wizard and an acrobat on the field and a smiling pitchman off of it. Evidently, we knew NOTHING about him as a person. Pearlman does his usual stellar research and writing here and the sections on Payton’s college career and early Bears years are outstanding.
Bo Knows Bo by Bo Jackson and Dick Schaap
Bo Jackson was/is considered a real-life Superman by an entire generation of us. This book was our bible on Bo when it came out. Still is, and it’s worth revisiting to understand just how incredible of an athlete he was.
Jim Brown: Last Man Standing by Dave Zirin
Uniquely written and raw, Zirin explores the good, bad and uncomfortable aspects of the legendary Jim Brown. It’s one of my favorite biographies because of the device he uses to tell the story, which I won’t spoil. Also, damn… Jim Brown’s stats would have been untouchable if he played four or five more years.
When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi by David Maraniss
You know the name and the trophy and the speeches. This book is the best one out there to learn about the man. It’s deeply researched and covers the early portions of Lombardi’s life that I’m confident most people don’t know about.
The Education of a Coach by David Halberstam
I believe Bill Belichick won three more Super Bowls after this book was published, but Halberstam is an all-time great and this deep dive on the path that lead to Belichick’s greatness is fascinating. From his father’s influence to his meager football career to his early film work, you’ll enjoy this even if you hate the Pats.
Tom Brady grew up loving Bill Walsh’s 49ers. He loved Joe Montana and Jerry Rice and Walsh is the man behind the system that helped them thrive and become all-time greats. This is an even more important read when you consider how the offensive numbers have exploded in today’s NFL. It all started with Walsh.
Whether Saquon Barkley becomes an all-time great running back worthy of a writer churning out his biography remains to be seen, but what we can firmly agree on is that he is already a legend in the weight room. His squat videos alone have garnered millions of views and his legs are the size of oak trees. In this story, he shares one of his leg day workouts. Just looking at this thing will make your quads wobbly. Check it out and give it a shot.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK - ON BEING A WINNER
“Winners act like winners before they’re winners…The culture precedes positive results. It doesn’t get tacked on as an afterthought on your way to the victory stand. Champions behave like champions before they’re champions; they have a winning standard of performance before they’re winners.” - Bill Walsh
I coach my kid’s soccer team and I decided to go with the Spurrier visor look for a practice. Never been a visor guy. I got mixed results. See for yourself.
I also made a dad confession here as I watched my kids fight over who ate the special box of Count Chocula I let them buy.
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Have a great weekend! - Jon