Real Football: Conversations on America's Game

Real Football: Conversations on America's Game

Real Football: Conversations on America's Game

Real Football: Conversations on America's Game

Synopsis

In-depth discussions with former NFL players and coaches on a wide range of topics, including masculinity, injury and pain, big-time college recruiting, college athletics and academics, relationships with fathers and coaches, encounters with Jim Crow and desegregation, and strikes and labor relations in the NFL

Excerpt

During the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, when the Germans were parachuting troops dressed in American uniforms behind Allied lines, U.S. sentries as a matter of course challenged men who approached them by demanding the answers to questions, often obscure, about baseball. Baseball was then considered a central part of an American male’s identity. Yet, today, few U.S. soldiers would be able to answer the questions these sentries posed.

During the 1960s, professional football surpassed major league baseball, long the national pastime, to become the most popular spectator sport in the United States. Professional football is today one of the principal forms of entertainment for men. Enormous crowds gather every Sunday during the increasingly protracted season to attend National Football League (NFL) games across the country, with millions more watching on television. Televised Monday Night Football games, introduced in 1970, caused restaurant patronage, movie attendance, and even crime to drop during those evenings and led Tuesday to replace Monday as the day when Detroit’s automobile plants recorded their highest rate of absenteeism. Monday Night Football has endured longer than any program on television in prime time. Despite football’s enormous popularity, however, the general public possesses relatively little knowledge of contemporary America’s most complex sport or of the experience and feelings of the men engaged in it.

This book examines the making of the professional football player and how he approaches his sport mentally and emotionally. It focuses on eight men who played in the NFL (and one, also in the All-America Football Conference, AAFC) for at least ten years, as well as another who coached football for forty-five years. The interviewees have played nearly every gridiron position, and they explain in . . .

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