Sunday, September 01, 2013

The Underground Football Encyclopedia: Football Stuff You Never Needed to Know and Can Certainly Live Without by Robert Schnakenberg

Finally, an accurate football book title! This book focuses on the overlap between the NFL and popular culture. It includes entries for mascots, TV announcers, cheerleaders, end-zone dances, football movies, superfans*, players-turned-actors, music videos ("The Super Bowl Shuffle"!), nicknames, and more.

I learned a lot of interesting stuff. I didn't know Alex Karras' wife on Webster was also his wife in real life. I had never heard about John Riggins' drunken encounter with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Like the subtitle says, this isn't critical information, but it's a lot of fun. Schnakenberg writes with humor appropriate to the entries and includes sidebars like "Great Moments in Cheerleaders Scandal".

* Incidentally, the "superfans" entry refers to actual hardcore fans (many of whom also get their own entries) and not "Bill Swerski's Superfans" from Saturday Night Live in the 1990s. I'm not a football expert, but I think that is the author's most egregious exclusion from this book.

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