Thursday, September 04, 2008

What We're Reading - The Best Game Ever by Mark Bowden

Beginning tonight, that familiar phrase will be echoing through the air...

"Are you ready for some Football?"

Well I know I am and to prepare for tonight's start of the NFL season, I just finished reading "The Best Game Ever" by Mark Bowden [of Black Hawk Down fame].
"The Best Game Ever" is a concise and very readable look at the famed 1958 NFL Championship game between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants that gained the NFL its first major national exposure on television and provided the platform for the birth of the AFL, unprecedented growth, the Super Bowl and the immense entertainment behemoth that professional football is today.
The story unfolds in the 3rd quarter and leads to flashbacks of how football had changed and evolved in the 1950s [film study and the creation of the 4-3 defense], profiles of both teams, various players [Raymond Berry, Johnny Unitas, Sam Huff] who remain to this day among the greatest ever to play their positions and then moves back to the first half of this pivotal game and into the memorable 4th quarter and overtime periods that solidify this game as the best game ever.
Football fans will flat out love this one. It is colorful and a pure shot of football adrenalin into the systems of football addicts and this is one book that teen football fans will enjoy, so if you are looking for a book for a football fan to read...this is the one! [do your holiday gift shopping early!]
Two facts of note that I found interesting.
  • Did you know that the two assistant coaches of the 1958 NY Giants were Tom Landry [defense] and Vince Lombardi [offense]. Both became legends as head coaches on their own. Has any team simultaneously ever had two better assistant coaches?
  • Perhaps the two most important NFL games ever played due to their impact on the growth of the sport were this 1958 championship game and the 1969 Super Bowl won by Joe Namath, the NY Jets and led the way to the NFL/AFL merger. Both games were won by the same head coach Weeb Ewbank. Not a bad resume, no wonder that with a less than impressive 130-129-7 lifetime record he is in the NFL Hall-of-Fame.

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