Thursday, August 22, 2013

NFL Unplugged: The Brutal, Brilliant World of Professional Football by Anthony L. Gargano

I kicked off football month (sorry) with this inside look at the NFL. Gargano leads the reader through a generic game day and season from the perspective of the players and coaches. This isn't a book about football games; it's about playing the game. It's about preparing oneself mentally and physically. It's about the dirty stuff that goes on at the bottom of a pile after a fumble (hint: watch your nuts). It's about inflicting and dealing with pain. It's about fighting the nervous urge to pee every 15 minutes.

The author is from Philadelphia so there is more about the Eagles than other teams. Some reviewers criticize this, but I think the NFL is the same everywhere so it doesn't really matter. He could have collected these stories in Miami or San Francisco and only the names would have changed.

While there are some interesting stories, Gargano tends to meander from tale to tale and obfuscate with uncommon words. Perhaps he has a thesaurus fetish or maybe he really does have a broad vocabulary, but either way it isn't appropriate to the subject matter or the audience.* His writing style didn't hold my attention very well. I'm also concerned that two weeks later I don't remember much of anything from the book (aside from the scrotum-twisting, but guys don't forget stuff like that).

* This reminds me of a ridiculous comment I heard during a game on TV a few years ago. I don't remember the context or the broadcaster, but a player was waiting for some reason and the broadcaster said it was like he was waiting for Godot. Yeah, I'm sure that's exactly what the dude on the field was thinking!

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