The Games That Changed the Game: The Evolution of the NFL in Seven Sundays

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Professional football in the last half century has been a sport marked by relentless innovation. For fans determined to keep up with the changes that have transformed the game, close examination of the coaching footage is a must. In The Games That Changed the Game, Ron Jaworski—pro football’s #1 game-tape guru—breaks down the film from seven of the most momentous contests of the last fifty years, giving readers a drive-by-drive, play-by-play guide to the evolutionary leaps that define the modern NFL. 

From Sid Gillman’s development of the Vertical Stretch, which launched the era of wide-open passing offenses, to Bill Belichick’s daring defensive game plan in Super Bowl XXXVI, which enabled his outgunned squad to upset the heavily favored St. Louis Rams and usher in the New England Patriots dynasty, the most cutting-edge concepts come alive again through the recollections of nearly seventy coaches and players. You’ll never watch NFL football the same way again.
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About the author

 
Ron Jaworski is one of the broadcasters of Monday Night Football, and one of the most popular analysts covering the NFL today. He appears regularly on a number of ESPN shows and specials. Jaworski attended Youngstown State University, then played seventeen NFL seasons. In 1980, he led the Philadelphia Eagles to Super Bowl XV and was named NFL MVP. Jaworski then became a sports commentator and TV show host. The president of Philadelphia’s famed Maxwell Club, Jaworski is involved in charitable activities and a variety of business ventures.

Greg Cosell and David Plaut are senior producers with NFL Films. Cosell is the creator and supervising producer of the NFL Matchup program, as well as a frequent guest on national sports radio programs. He lives in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. Plaut is a multi–Emmy Award–winning producer with NFL Films, former book critic for USA Today, Sports Weekly, and the author of four previous books. He lives in Moorestown, New Jersey.
 
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Additional Information

Publisher
ESPN
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Published on
Oct 5, 2010
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9780345517975
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Language
English
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Genres
Sports & Recreation / Coaching / Football
Sports & Recreation / Football
Sports & Recreation / History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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An “excellent sports history” (Publishers Weekly) in the tradition of Michael Lewis’s Moneyball, award-winning historian S.C. Gwynne tells the incredible story of how two unknown coaches revolutionized American football at every level, from high school to the NFL.

Hal Mumme spent fourteen mostly losing seasons coaching football before inventing a potent passing offense that would soon shock players, delight fans, and terrify opposing coaches. It all began at a tiny, overlooked college called Iowa Wesleyan, where Mumme was head coach and Mike Leach, a lawyer who had never played college football, was hired as his offensive line coach. In the cornfields of Iowa these two mad inventors, drawn together by a shared disregard for conventionalism and a love for Jimmy Buffett, began to engineer the purest, most extreme passing game in the 145-year history of football. Implementing their “Air Raid” offense, their teams—at Iowa Wesleyan and later at Valdosta State and the University of Kentucky—played blazingly fast—faster than any team ever had before, and they routinely beat teams with far more talented athletes. And Mumme and Leach did it all without even a playbook.

“A superb treat for all gridiron fans” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), The Perfect Pass S.C. Gwynne explores Mumme’s leading role in changing football from a run-dominated sport to a pass-dominated one, the game that tens of millions of Americans now watch every fall weekend. Whether you’re a casual or ravenous football fan, this is “a rousing tale of innovation” (Booklist), and “Gwynne’s book ably relates the story of that innovation and the successes of the man who devised it” (New York Journal of Books).
The Genius is the gripping and definitive account of Bill Walsh’s career and how he built a football dynasty from the rubble of a fallen franchise. David Harris gives a stellar account of the silver-haired sophisticate from humble working-class roots who was hired as head coach and general manager of the San Francisco Forty Niners in January 1979 and became the architect of what is arguably the greatest ten-year run in NFL history.

With unmatched access to players, fellow coaches, executives, the reporters who covered the Niners’ heyday, and Walsh himself, Harris recounts how Walsh, through tactical and organizational genius, created a football juggernaut. There were also the demons that pushed and haunted Walsh throughout his career: his clash with his former mentor, Paul Brown, who denied Walsh his first pro head-coaching job with the Cincinnati Bengals; Walsh’s struggle with self-doubt and criticism; the toll his single-minded devotion to football exacted on his family; and his complex relationship with the Forty Niners’ owner, Edward DeBartolo, Jr.

Walsh’s pre-Niners coaching odyssey was arduous–a longtime assistant coach, he developed his legendary and now-standard pass-oriented West Coast offense during stops at all levels of the game. Despite never having run a team’s draft before, Walsh, along with his right-hand man John McVay, quickly built the foundation for a dynasty by drafting or trading for a durable core of stars, including Joe Montana, Fred Dean, Hacksaw Reynolds, Dwight Clark, and Ronnie Lott. (Walsh would later restock the team with such players as Jerry Rice, Steve Young, and Charles Haley.) The key to Walsh’s genius perhaps lay in his keen understanding of his athletes’ psyches–he knew what brought out the best in each of them. But the scope of Walsh’s impact on the game extended well beyond the field and locker room. The Forty Niners’ life-skills counseling program, which Walsh spearheaded with the sports sociologist and activist Dr. Harry Edwards, and the internship program Walsh devised to bring minority coaches into the game have since been adopted by the NFL for all league franchises.

In the annals of sport, few individuals have had as great an impact on their game–or on its relevance to life outside the lines–as Bill Walsh. With knowledge, skill, passion, and a critical eye, David Harris reveals the brilliant man behind the coaching legend.

The vision Bill Walsh brought to all his pioneering efforts was a function of his perception of himself as someone who was far more than a football coach. He cherished his standing and participation in the larger world outside the NFL and nurtured them at every opportunity.

“Knowing Bill Walsh was kind of like the blind man describing an elephant,” one of the sportswriters who covered him observed. “We all knew just one little piece of him. But he had all these other areas we knew nothing about. He dealt with lots of people outside of football, outside of our scope entirely. He was able to deal with politicians, people who were intellects in other areas. They were impressed by him.”

–from The Genius
In The Art of a Beautiful Game, Chris Ballard, the award-winning Sports Illustrated writer who has covered the NBA for the past decade, goes behind the scenes to examine basketball in ways that will surprise even die-hard fans. An inveterate hoops junkie who played some college ball, Ballard sits down with the NBA's most passionate, cerebral players to find out their tricks of the trade and to learn what drives them, taking readers away from the usual sports talk radio fodder and deep into the heart of the game.

Ballard talks to Dwight Howard, a prolific shot-blocker, about the enervating feeling of meeting another man at the height of his leap; challenges Steve Kerr to a game of H-O-R-S-E to understand the mentality of a pure shooter; reveals the roots of Kobe Bryant's unmatched killer instinct; and spends time with LeBron James to better understand both his mental game and his seemingly unlimited physical skills. He tracks down renowned dunkers from Dominique to Shaq to explore the impact of the dunk on the modern game, shadows Shane Battier during his preparations to defend LeBron, takes lessons from a freethrow shooting guru who once hit 2,750 in a row, and attends an elite NBA training camp to feel the pain that turns a prospect into a pro.

Packed with lively characters and basketball history, and grounded in superb writing and the reportage that is the hallmark of Sports Illustrated, The Art of a Beautiful Game is an often witty, always insightful look at the men like Steve Nash, Yao Ming, and Alonzo Mourning who devote themselves to this elegant and complicated sport. It ultimately provides basketball fans what they all want: an inside read on the game they love.
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