NFL Brawler: A Player-Turned-Agent's Forty Years in the Bloody Trenches of the National Football League

Rowman & Littlefield
1
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NFL Brawler is a raucous first-person account of an NFL under siege by the game’s first player-turned-agent, Ralph Cindrich, the original “Blind Side” agent whose entertaining pro football memoir takes readers behind the scenes of the game’s most important and outrageous drafts, deals, and trades; takes on NFL scandals by tellin’ it like it is; and takes readers closer to the real action of the sport—from locker rooms to boardrooms, and into the worlds of agents and players—than any book to date.
Chronicling more than thirty years in the professional football business—on the field and in the locker room; in high-stakes negotiations with coaches, GMs, and owners; and inside agents’ and players’ personal lives—Cindrich, twice named by The Sporting News as one of the 100 most powerful people in sports, writes about a who’s who of professional football: NFL coaches like Bill Parcells, Jimmy Johnson, Mike Ditka, Sid Gillman, and Bill Belichick; NFL owners like Art Rooney and Al Davis to Jerry Jones and others; other sports agents; and the NFL talking heads from John Madden to Keyshawn Johnson.
While taking certain aspects of his beloved sport to task, Cindrich’s memoir is entertaining—blowing out of the water Jerry Maguire, Arli$$, and other portrayals of an agent’s life.

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About the author

A star linebacker at the University of Pittsburgh, Ralph Cindrich played for the NFL’s New England Patriots, Houston Oilers and Denver Broncos. In the 1980s he became one of the pro game’s most prominent player agents. Soon he was ranked among the most powerful people in sports. USA Today called Cindrich “the undisputed free-agent champ.” His pioneering work for left tackle Will Wolford was featured in Michael Lewis’s The Blind Side. Today he represents several second-generation clients, teaches sports-law classes and serves as an expert witness in multimillion-dollar labor cases. He lives in Pittsburgh with his wife, Mary. Visit cindrich.com
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Additional Information

Publisher
Rowman & Littlefield
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Published on
Aug 1, 2015
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9781493019441
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
Sports & Recreation / Football
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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A current pro player takes fans on a pseudonymous trip through one of the most infamous years of football—the very long, sometimes funny, often controversial 2013-2014 season—sharing raucous, behind-the-scenes, on-the-field, and in-the-locker-room truth about life in the National Football League.

“Well, to hell with being safe. I’m going to be honest.”

Johnny Anonymous' life goal was to be nothing greater or less than the Best NFL Back-Up of All Time™. For two years, he was content earning hundreds of thousands of dollars to stand on the sidelines doing absolutely nothing. But early in his third year, a starting lineman is injured, and he suddenly finds himself on the field.

For most players, this moment is a dream come true. But not so for our author, one of the incredibly rare birds in football who reach the highest echelons, but who actually hate America’s favorite game. That’s right. Johnny Anonymous hates football. He hates what it does to his body, his brain, his life. Luckily, he can see the humor in his own situation, but also in the machinations of the NFL.

Part truth-telling narrative, part whip-smart commentary that only a true insider could bring, part hilarious, NFL Confidential gives football fans a look at a world most would give anything to see, and gives non-fans a wild ride through the strange, and sometimes disturbing customs and realities of football today. Here is a truly unaffiliated look at the nation’s biggest, most lucrative pastime over the course of one of its most transformative seasons.

From hard-to-stomach diets, showdowns in the weight room, shenanigans in the locker room, the looming dread of being cut from the team, the racial issues that still exist in modern-day football, the rock-star lifestyle that players find themselves able to afford and sometimes enjoy a little too much, the notion of being lauded in a league plagued by controversy and the sharp contrast between the love/hate of the game and the reality of the job, Johnny reveals a never-before-seen side of the NFL.

"Never die easy. Why run out of bounds and die easy? Make that linebacker pay. It carries into all facets of your life. It's okay to lose, to die, but don't die without trying, without giving it your best."

His legacy is towering. Walter Payton—the man they called Sweetness, for the way he ran—remains the most prolific running back in the history of the National Football League, the star of the Chicago Bears' only Super Bowl Championship, eleven times voted the most popular sports figure in Chicago's history. Off the field, he was a devoted father whose charitable foundation benefited tens of thousands of children each year, and who—faced with terminal liver disease—refused to use his celebrity to gain a preferential position for organ donation. Walter Payton was not just a football hero; he was America's hero.
        Never Die Easy is Walter Payton's autobiography, told from the heart. Growing up poor in Mississippi, he took up football to get girls' attention, and went on to become a Black College All-American at tiny Jackson State (during which time he was also a finalist in a Soul Train dance contest). Drafted by the Bears in 1975, he predicted that he would last only five years but went on to play thirteen extraordinary seasons, a career earning him regular acknowledgment as one of the greatest players in the history of professional football. And when his playing days were over, he approached business and charity endeavors with the same determination and success he had brought to the football field, always putting first his devotion to friends and family. His ultimate battle with illness truly proved him the champion he always had been and prompted a staggering outpouring of love and support from hundreds of thousands of friends and admirers.
        Written with veteran journalist and author Don Yaeger in the last weeks of Walter Payton's life, Never Die Easy presents Walter's singular voice—warm, plainspoken, funny, self-aware—along with the voices of the friends, family, teammates, and business associates who knew him best at all stages of his life, including his wife, Connie, and their children, Brittney and Jarrett; his teammate and friend Matt Suhey; former Bears head coach Mike Ditka; and many, many others.
        Walter made Don Yaeger promise that his book would be "inspirational and leave people with some kind of lesson . . . and make sure you spell all the words right." Never Die Easy keeps all those promises.
The moment I walked out of that tunnel that first time I was in the NFL and saw that 70,000 people, I said, "This is me, this is mine, this is what I was meant to do." Some people get scared that first time. Me? Scared my ass. I was loving it.

NFL superstar Chad Ochocinco is one of the most feared weapons in football, having amassed six consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons and made it to five straight Pro Bowls. And he does things his way–always big, always fun, always outrageous.

Take Ochocinco’s extravagant touchdown celebrations: performing the Riverdance jig, mock-proposing to a cheerleader, tossing presents into the crowd on Christmas Eve, performing CPR on the football, putting on a gold sport coat that says "Future Hall of Famer." Or his sense of style: the blond Mohawk, the gold teeth, the nude photo shoot for a sports magazine. Or his trash-talking: People tell me I have to tone it down. Man, do you know what I’ve been through to get here? You’re going to tell me to stop having fun? Sorry, it’s not happening. Or his unabashed self-confidence: I got six paintings of myself in the living room of my town house in Cincinnati. Why? Because I love me. I’m great and I know it.

In Ocho Cinco, Chad offers his blunt take on his life and career and on the bizarre game–and business–of football. He takes us back to his days growing up in a poor, dangerous section of Miami, where he was raised by his stern grandmother: You want to know how I turned out like this? Don’t talk to me, talk to my grandmom. A high school quarterback, he went to two junior colleges before landing for a single year at Oregon State. From there he was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals, a team he eventually helped lead to the playoffs for the first time in fifteen years.

Ochocinco reveals what really goes on in the locker room, on the field, and in the clubs where so many of his fellow athletes get in trouble. He talks about fights with teammates, coaches, and owners. He offers his honest observations on drugs, cheating, and women: You get all this money and you get all these women at your disposal. . . . You’re going to do your thing, trust me. You’re going to do it. And he deals frankly with his reputation as a malcontent and drama king: People want to be entertained, but the minute you open up about it and have some fun, they bash you for it. They want you to play inside this little box, and if you ever dare step outside this little box you’re in trouble. Well, there is no box for me. I am completely out of the box.

Ocho Cinco gives fans a rare inside look at pro football, presented by a singular athlete who’s not afraid to speak his mind: What I do may be funny, but nothing I do is a joke.
The legendary NFL receiver, all-time receptions and yards leader for the Green Bay Packers, and Dancing with the Stars champion looks back on his life and career.

When he was picked in the seventh-round of 1999 NFL draft, Donald Driver couldn’t find Green Bay on a map. He was given little chance of making the Packers roster, much less of amassing over 10,000 yards in his career and becoming a Super Bowl champion. But in an unlikely journey, Driver has overcome obstacle after obstacle to become one of the most successful players in the NFL.
 
Now, for the first time, Driver recalls his time growing up in Houston, spending nights living in a U-Haul trailer with his mother and stealing cars and selling drugs with his brother to get by.  He recalls what it was like to walk into the locker room as a little-regarded prospect out of Alcorn State, an athlete who one year earlier thought his future was in high jump rather than football, and why he would have never made the team without the support of General Manager Ron Wolf.
 
With the help of his winning speed, skill, not to mention, smile, Driver became one of Brett Favre's most-trusted targets and a fan favorite at Lambeau. (Though it took some time for him to perfect his Lambeau leap.)  Driven takes you inside the locker room with Favre, shares his experiences with Reggie White, and recalls his more recent role as a veteran leader for like Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings during their Super Bowl run in 2010. Over 14 years Driver has been through it all—game winning touchdowns, crushing playoff defeats, frightening injuries, and the glory of the Super Bowl.
 
Traveling off the field, Driver discuss his relationship with his wife and three children: how uncertain they were when he undertook  the relentless training necessary to become a champion on the 2012 season of Dancing With the Stars, and how supportive they are of his charity work and service to God.
 
Driver retired on his terms after 14 years in the NFL: as a Packer for life. Driven is the definitive story of Donald Driver’s extraordinary journey.
The first in-depth biography of one of the most talented and infamous legends to play in the National Football League—the life and times of pro football’s first bad boy, famed Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler.

Ken "The Snake" Stabler was the embodiment of the original Men in Black—the freewheeling, hard-hitting Oakland Raiders. The league’s first swashbuckling pass thrower, the mythical southpaw Southerner famous for come-from-behind drives late in the game, Stabler led the Raiders to their first Super Bowl championship in 1977. In an era dominated by gentleman quarterbacks like Roger Staubach and Bob Griese, this 1974 NFL MVP, four-time Pro-bowler, and Super Bowl champion was an iconoclast who partied as hard as he played and lived life unapologetically on his own—not the NFL’s—terms.

Though Stabler’s legacy is larger-than-life, there has never before been an exclusive account of him, until now. Snake goes deep under the surface of Stabler’s persona to reveal a man who, despite his penchant for partying and debauchery, was committed to winning and being the best player he could be. From his college days playing for Bear Bryant at Alabama to his years with the Raiders under coach John Madden, his broadcasting career to his death in 2015 and the revelation that he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, known as C.T.E., Snake probes the myriad facets of Stabler’s life on and off the field to tell his complete story, and explores how his legacy and the culture and times that pivotally shaped it, continues to impact football today.

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