Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Review of "Collision of Wills"

After a death in my family that took me away from reading and reviewing, it is time to get back into the swing of things with books. I read this book on the plane trip to be with family members and now am writing the review.  It was a decent read on two legendary figures in professional football.  Here is my review of "Collision of Wills"



Title/Author:
Collision of Wills: Johnny Unitas, Don Shula and the Rise of the Modern NFL” by Jack Gilden

Tags:
Football (American), biography, history, Colts

Publish date:
October 1, 2018

Length:
352 pages

Rating: 
4 of 5 stars (very good)

Review:
Johnny Unitas and Don Shula are two legendary figures in the history of professional football.  The former is a Hall of Fame quarterback who played most of his career with the Baltimore Colts.  The latter played as a defensive back for multiple teams, including the Colts where he was a teammate of Unitas.  Shula became a coach when his playing days were over, leading the Colts and Miami Dolphins to titles and becoming a Hall of Fame coach.

The relationship between the two men ranged from tolerable to frosty whether they were teammates or Shula was the head coach and Unitas was his quarterback.  The relationship between these two men is explored in this book by Jack Gilden. This is the best aspect of the book as Gilden uses interviews from many different people with different connections to the two men. These vary from Colts teammates to Joe Namath, the Jets quarterback who led his team to an upset victory over the Colts in Super Bowl III.  The Colts were coached by Shula and Unitas played in that game in relief of starting quarterback Earl Morral. 

Like many books about sports in the 1960’s, which is when most of the events took place, it mingles the sport with the culture of the time. These include the Vietnam war, the sexual revolution and the civil rights movement.  There is a lot of text devoted to these subjects and while interesting; I felt that at times these took the focus away from the main subjects of Unitas and Shula.

However, when concentrating on them or on the history of the Colts, this is an excellent source of information.  In addition so learning more about Unitas and Shula, a reader will learn more about the eccentric owner of the Colts at that time, Carroll Rosenbloom (who later traded the ownership of the team to Robert Irsay in exchange for ownership of the Los Angeles Rams).  Weeb Ewbank, the man whom Shula replaced as head coach of the Colts, is also portrayed, and he comes across as sympathetic figure – until he coaches the Jets to the win over the Colts in the Super Bowl.

Overall, this is a very interesting and informative book on the Colts and the two legends who played an important role in making the Colts one of the best teams during the 1960’s.  Their role in changing the landscape of professional football cannot be overlooked and this book informs the reader of their importance.

I wish to thank University of Nebraska Press for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Format Read:
E-Book (Kindle)

Buying Links:


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Review of "Speed Girl"

Racing fans who are old enough to remember Janet Guthrie's historic career in which she became the first woman to race in the Indianapolis 500 will enjoy this book on the struggles she endured to reach that pinnacle.  Here is my review of the audio version of "Speed Girl."



Title/Author:
Speed Girl” by Stephan Talty, narrated by Christina Traister

Tags:
Auto Racing, biography, history, women, audio book

Publish date:
May 16, 2017

Length:
129 pages

Rating: 
3 ½ of 5 stars (good)

Review:
Women were gaining more acceptance in sports during the decade of the 1970’s. Tennis had the most notable accomplishments for women’s rights, including equal prize money for men and women and Billie Jean King’s victory over Bobby Riggs.  In auto racing, Janet Guthrie became the first female driver to race in the Indianapolis 500, qualifying in 1977 and again in 1978 with a top ten finish.  Guthrie’s passion for racing and her career are chronicled in this biography by Stephan Talty.

The story of Guthrie’s desire to become a driver is interesting as she was on a track to become an accomplished scientist.  But from the time she was a little girl, she was fascinated with speed and adventure.  The struggles she endured with not only sexism from drivers in both the Indy Car circuit and NASCAR but also from fans and potential sponsors wore on her.  Never giving up, she eventually found a team who would hire her as a driver. The lack of sponsorship also made her struggle financially but eventually she not only drove in the most prestigious race in the sport, but had a major sponsor (Texaco) back her in 1978 when she placed ninth. Then, inexplicably, she could never get another team or sponsor for future racing, effectively ending her racing career.

The narration by Traister is sound during not only the racing sections, but also when talking about Guthrie’s life and the scenes in the garage.  Guthrie was not above grabbing a wrench and helping the mechanics in the shop with repairing her car, which was happening too frequently.  The writing is okay with some portions that seem to be unnecessarily repeated, such as her infrequent dating or the frustrations in overcoming the sexism. While there were plenty of examples of the latter, the addition of how that made her feel wasn’t really needed. It was clear that she was a victim of the sexism that existed in the sport during that era.

Readers who want to know more about Guthrie’s racing career will learn that from this book and it is a good source for information on the culture of the sport in the 1970’s. There isn’t a lot about her after she left racing not on her terms, so it falls short there but is certainly a good look at a female sports pioneer.

Book Format Read:
Audio book

Buying Links:

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Review of "Shadow Games"

Point shaving scandals have been in college basketball for a long time, and this book is a fictional story about one in the 1990's. The characters are all likeable, the story is good and the book is a very quick read - all ingredients for an enjoyable novel. Here is my review of "Shadow Games"



Title/Author:
Shadow Games” by Jim Lester
Tags:
Basketball, college, fiction, gambling, young adult
Publish date:
June 20, 2018
Length:
236 pages
Rating: 
4 of 5 stars (very good)
Review:
Danny McCall could be considered a basketball junkie. His hard work at the game paid off in a basketball scholarship to St. Patrick’s College in New Wexford, New Jersey. However, he and a teammate, Ronnie Knox, risk everything to aid gamblers in a point shaving scheme. The story of Danny, Ronnie and the sports editor of the college paper, K.C. Donovan is told in this quick-reading, fast moving novel by Jim Lester.
Set in the early 1990’s, the story is mostly about Danny and his love for the game. His parents have the mindset of the hippie culture of the 1960’s and their home and finances show their disdain for capitalism. Therefore, he is careful to ensure that he stays on a straight path to keep his scholarship despite little playing time at point guard  his freshman year and the prospect of little more in his sophomore year when St. Patrick’s recruits a prized point guard. His teammate Knox is a high-scoring ultra-talented player who gets involved in gambling in order to get paid plenty of money and talks Danny into joining the scheme.
This puts Danny into a pickle as he and K.C. are not only both basketball junkies, they become a couple. However, Danny grows distant from her as he gets more involved into the gambling.  It affects his game as well as his scholarship. The ups and downs of all three of these main characters are told from their viewpoints alternately throughout the book, making the story balanced. This is one of the few novels I have read from multiple points of view that not only was easy to follow but also balanced in how much each character contributed to the story.
The basketball scenes and descriptions are excellent as any hoops fan will enjoy reading about either Knox’s cocky attitude while scoring almost at will or McCall’s tenacity and behind the back passes that seem to get crisper with each game. The reader will feel like they are on the court with these two and the rest of the St. Patrick’s team during game passages. 
While the ending did complete the story of these three characters, it left me wanting to know more about some of the other lesser characters fared.  That said, it didn’t keep me from enjoying the book from beginning to end.  It is one that readers who enjoy basketball, young adult or college life stories or just a good coming of age story should consider adding to their libraries.
I wish to thank the author for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Book Format Read:
E-book (Kindle)
Buying Links:




Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Review of "Waterman"

It is always great to read a book about a team, event or athlete about which I had little or no previous knowledge.  I had heard about Duke Kahanamoku during an Olympics broadcast and the announcers would talk about past American swimming champions. Beyond that, I knew nothing.  Thanks to this book, I know a lot more about this man and his story is one that should be read by all.  Here is my review of "Waterman"



 
Title/Author:
Waterman: The Life and Times of Duke Kahanamoku” by David Davis

Tags:
Swimming, surfing, biography, Summer Olympics, politics, race

Publish date:
May 1, 2018 (paperback) – first published October 1, 2015

Length:
354 pages

Rating: 
4 ½ of 5 stars (excellent)

Review:
Swimming is a sport that usually has the attention of the sporting world only once every four years during the Summer Olympics. Thanks to the television coverage of the Olympics, many fans are familiar with names like Mark Spitz, Janet Evans and Michael Phelps.  However, long before these swimmers gained fame there was a man who started in the backwaters in Hawaii when it was still an American territory to become the first true American superstar in the sport. Duke Kahanamoku’s story is told in this well-written, well-researched book by David Davis.

Duke’s life is covered from beginning to end, starting with his childhood in Hawaii when the Queen is overthrown and the islands become an American territory. His love of the water began at an early age, and he was determined to represent the United States in the Summer Olympics. This was despite poor treatment by many white Americans on the mainland as he endured the same racism as black Americans because of his darker complexion.  Nevertheless, Duke represented the country in three Summer Olympics, with his best showing coming in 1920 (the second of his three Olympics) by setting many records that lasted more than a decade. Especially interesting in Duke’s swimming career was the passing of the mantle of the best American swimmer from Duke to Johnny Weissmuller.  Instead of a rivalry, it started a long-time friendship between the two competitors.

While Duke didn’t surf competitively, he not only brought the sport popularity in his native Hawaii, he also brought surfing to the California Pacific coast, where his work on promoting and exhibiting surfing was very well received.  He considered California a second home and did pique his interest in acting.  He didn’t have the success in that career that other swimmers such as Weissmuller and Buster Crabbe had, but it is noted that he still enjoyed the experience.

While the passages about Duke’s swimming, surfing and Olympic feats were excellent, so were the pages about other aspects of his life. His many jobs in acting, politics (his best-known accomplishment was being elected as a local sheriff) and other business ventures helped the reader learn the complete man, who was always considered kind and thoughtful, even when political opponents would criticize him.  He married later in life and enjoyed that lifestyle in his later years.  These parts of the book are also well researched and are filled with many details that fully paint the picture of the Hawaiian legend.  This is a book that people interested in water sports or Hawaiian culture will want to add to their libraries.

I wish to thank University of Nebraska Press for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.


Book Format Read:
Paperback

Buying Links:
http://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/university-of-nebraska-press/9780803254770/

https://www.amazon.com/Waterman-Life-Times-Duke-Kahanamoku/dp/0803254776/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Review of "Blue Monday"

Even though this post is written during an American holiday weekend, this book about a significant day in Canadian baseball history was one that caught my eye. I always followed the Montreal Expos during their existence and this book about the most heartbreaking game in their 36 year history was a decent read.  Here is my review of "Blue Monday,"


Title/Author:
Blue Monday: The Expos, the Dodgers and the Home Run That Changed Everything” by Danny Gallagher
Tags:
Baseball, professional, championship, Expos, Dodgers
Publish date:
October 13, 2018
Length:
256 pages
Rating: 
4 of 5 stars (very good)
Review:
In October 1981, Major League Baseball was in the midst of a postseason that went longer thanks to a players’ strike in the middle of the regular season. The National League Championship Series (NLCS) between the Montreal Expos and the Los Angeles Dodgers was a tense 5 game affair (the series was a best of 5 format at that time) that the Dodgers won on the strength of a home run by outfielder Rick Monday. Because the home run denied the Expos a chance to go to their first World Series and the fact that the game was on Monday, October 19, that day has been known as “Blue Monday” in Canada. The significance and sadness of the game in Canada only grew over time as the Expos never got that close to the World Series again before leaving Montreal in 2004. That game, the main men involved and how the Expos got that that point is chronicled in this book by sportswriter Danny Gallagher.
Blue Monday actually had its beginnings at the end of the 1976 season when the Expos, coming off a season in which they lost 107 games, fired manager Karl Kuehl and hired Dick Williams. Williams was a proven winner, having won pennants and World Series titles previously in Boston and Oakland.  Between good drafts and trades by general manager John McHale and Williams changing the culture of the franchise, the team had come very close to making the postseason in 1979 and 1980, finally breaking through in 1981 thanks to the split season format enacted after the player’s strike. By winning the National League East Division in the second half, the playoff format that year had the Expos facing the first half winner, the Philadelphia Phillies. After winning that series, the Expos met the Dodgers, with the teams splitting the first four games, setting up the epic showdown for the National League pennant.
The book leads the reader up to this moment completely, from the hiring of Williams to the rise of many key Expos players such as Rogers, Andre Dawson, Warren Cromartie (more in him a little later) and Gary Carter. There were surprises along the way, such as the shocking firing of Williams as manager in September 1981 and replacing him with Jim Fanning. This was not a completely popular move and it led to the biggest question asked in the history of the Expos – why did Fanning send Rogers out to pitch in the eighth inning of game 5 of the NLCS?
Gallagher asks the question and gets many responses from many people, including the main three – Fanning, Rogers and Monday.  Without giving away any spoilers, it is safe to say that the reader will have plenty of information to determine whether that decision was justified or not. There is also similar analysis with other questions, such as if the Expo starter in game 5, Ray Burris, could have stayed in the game and why Williams was fired. These not only are analyzed with serious information, there is also a bit of humor in each one. The humor may come from other sources or from Gallagher himself. For the former, try this quote from legendary Los Angeles sports writer Jim Murray, writing about Burris who played with several teams before the Expos: “…Ray Burris, one of those pitchers who has been through more towns than a steamboat trunk.”  For some humor from the author, try this for a reason that Dick Williams was fired: “ Youppi! didn’t want to be manager.”  (Note: Youppi! was the Expos’ orange furry mascot)
While the book overall is a decent read, those who were Expos fans or followed the team during its existence will want to pick this up to learn a little more about the man who broke Canada’s heart, Rick Monday. Gallagher’s interviews and writing about Monday since that home run give the reader an inside glimpse into the man that many baseball fans have never seen. For that reason alone, it is a worthy addition to any baseball library.

I wish to thank Dundurn Publishing for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Book Format Read:
E-book (Kindle)
Buying Links:



Thursday, August 30, 2018

Review of "Racing with the Doctor."

Chalk this book up under the category "new sport."  While not completely unfamiliar with the world of racing on local tracks, I was not familiar with this type of racing and the cars driven, so it was good to read this collection of stories written by a pit crew member.  Here is my review of "Racing with 'The Doctor' "




Title/Author:
Racing with ‘The Doctor’ Recollections from a Member of Jerry Crabb’s Sprint Car Pit Crew” by Todd R. Thomas

Tags:
Auto racing, memoir

Publish date:
March 27, 2018

Length:
208 pages

Rating: 
4 of 5 stars (very good)

Review:
First-hand accounts of any type of sports experience are usually the best ones to read. Since I have very little knowledge of sprint car racing, it seemed like reading a book on this sport would be the best way to learn about it. The stories shared by author Todd Thomas while he worked on a pit crew in the sport was an excellent way in which to learn about the sport.

Jerry Crabb is a legend in the sport, especially in Iowa where he made his mark at the Knoxville Raceway, winning the 1998 Masters Classic.  The reader will learn much about Jerry and his wife Jan through the storytelling of Thomas, who shares just about every experience he ever had on the track, whether or not he was a part of Crabb’s pit crew at the time.

For readers who have little to no knowledge of the sport, Thomas writes in easy-to-understand language about the nuances of racing, the parts and structure of the cars, and even explains why the drivers in the sport have to steer to the right when they are actually traveling in a counterclockwise direction on the track. There are also plenty of entertaining and downright hilarious stories so readers who know the sport and the legend that is Mr. Crabb will also appreciate the book.  It is recommended for anyone who is interested in the sport of sprint car racing.


Book Format Read:
E-book (Kindle)

Buying Links:

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Review of "Football for a Buck"

I am just going to come out and say it - this is probably the best book I have read since I started this blogging adventure more than five years ago. It helps that Jeff Pearlman is one of my favorite authors and the USFL had a colorful history.  If nothing else, the fact that this review is over 2100 words long instead of the usual 500-700 word review I write for books says that I loved this one.  Here is my review of "Football for a Buck."


Title/Author:
Football for a Buck: The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL” by Jeff Pearlman
Tags:
Football (American), history, professional, management
Publish date:
September 11, 2018
Length:
384 pages
Rating: 
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)
Review:
For a brief stretch in the 1980’s, there were two professional football leagues in the United States. There was the well-established National Football League (NFL), which by then was staking its claim to being the most popular league of the most popular sport in the country.  But for three years, there was another league, the United States Football League (USFL) that played its games in the spring and saw wacky games and players, innovative rules such as instant replay challenges, both good and not-so-good football and one brash, bombastic owner who tried to take on the NFL and eventually lost, meaning the end of the league just three years after it started. 
The history of the USFL, from the day that David Dixon’s idea for spring football was announced by the Associated Press in 1966 to the dispersing of USFL players into the NFL after the results and award from the anti-trust lawsuit were revealed, is captured in this highly entertaining, highly informative book by best selling author Jeff Pearlman. No matter what a reader wants to learn or read about regarding the USFL, they are sure to find it in this book.
Yes, that date announcing the idea of the USFL was correct. The idea of a professional spring football league was conceived by David Dixon in 1966, the league gaining that name simply because he liked the name of U.S. Steel for a company in which he held stock. The idea went into to hiding when the NFL soon thereafter awarded a team to New Orleans and merged with the American Football League.  However, Dixon never let his dream completely die and in the early 1980’s, it was reborn. Thanks to a trip to the home of legendary coach George Allen and the growth of a new product called cable television, Dixon set out to sell the idea of spring football.  When a group of wealthy businessmen with deep pockets and large egos all signed on, the USFL was born, complete with a schedule for 1983 with 12 teams and more importantly, a television contract.
The first season was considered, in the big picture, a success. The attendance and television ratings were considered reasonable for a new league. The quality of football ran from ugly to spectacular. For ugly, just watch any Washington Federals game as Pearlman regularly reminded readers just how bad this team was both on and off the field. Pearlman humorously wrote that the team “led the USFL in three unofficial categories: 1. Football players no one had ever heard of. 2. Cigarette smokers 3. Coke Addicts.” Not exactly the formula for a good team. However, for spectacular football, two good examples are the triple overtime playoff game that season between the Philadelphia Stars and the Chicago Blitz, still considered to be one of the best playoff games in football history; and the championship game the following week between the Philadelphia Stars and the Michigan Panthers, won by the Panthers on a thrilling touchdown.
However, the championship game wasn’t the biggest news for the league that season.  Proving that that the league was for real and to get a “big name” player, the New Jersey Generals signed running back Herschel Walker from the University of Georgia before he was eligible to play in the NFL. The story of getting Walker to sign with the new league was very interesting, especially as the league wanted to keep everything a secret until it was official.  Because of this, the scout for the Generals who did the work to get Walker to sign with New Jersey, Rick Buffington, was concerned when he received a call from the Boston Globe to inquire if it was indeed true that Walker signed with the USFL. Pearlman writes about this at his best, calling Buffington the “Herschel Walker Deep Throat.”
The Generals were not only the team in the biggest market, they later on had the most brash and outlandish owner in the league’s second season in a New York real estate tycoon named Donald J. Trump. If anything could take attention away from the strangeness of two franchises swapping players and locations, as the Chicago Blitz and Arizona Wranglers did , it was the loud and bombastic announcement of the league’s newest owner.  While the league already had some eccentric owners, such as Bill Oldenburg, the oil tycoon who owned the Los Angeles Express and had some wacky stories of his own shared in the book (one Pearlman description of an Oldenburg meltdown said he “went from agreeable to obnoxious to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest psychotic”), he had nothing on Trump. More on the Generals’ owner a little later.
While the signing of Walker was a boon for the league’s publicity, there were reservations inside league headquarter and from USFL Commissioner Chet Simmons.  He and some other owners, most notably Tampa Bay Bandits owner John Bassett, wanted the goal of the league to build slowly and keep salaries in check. Walker was the first signing to break that mold.  However, the dam burst on salaries before that second season. Many future NFL stars were signed to huge contracts such as Jim Kelly (signed by the expansion Houston Gamblers) and Steve Young. Young’s contract, totaling over $40 million dollars when including annuity payments, was the butt end of a lot of jokes. His team, the Express, not only had an eccentric owner, but also was suffering from poor play on the field and very poor attendance, made all the more noticeable by playing home games in the massive Los Angeles Coliseum.
One other notable signing was Doug Flutie, the Boston College quarterback who made one of the most famous college football comebacks with a “Hail Mary” pass touchdown to beat Miami. Flutie was sought and signed by New Jersey. Trump wanted to sign the quarterback as he believed the popular quarterback would be good for the league – and he also wanted all of the league’s owners to chip in toward paying Flutie’s salary instead of just the Generals. Regardless of political position or affiliation, any reader will realize that sounds very familiar to something that Trump stated later in his second career. This is another example of the brilliance Pearlman brings to this book as he is able to make the reader connect the USFL to today’s events, whether or not they relate to football.
Despite the craziness, it seemed like the USFL was gaining its place for spring football. While not enjoying NFL numbers for attendance, TV ratings and quality of play, the product nonetheless was gaining respect in all those areas. For the latter of those qualities, the USFL never claimed to be on the same footing as the NFL. The players enlisted were described as “your tied, your poor, your huddled masses, your one-armed and chain-smoking and half blind and clinically insane..” by Pearlman – one of the funniest lines in a book filled with snippets that will make a reader laugh out loud.  
Even though the league made a questionable decision to expand from 12 to 18 teams with some of these teams never getting on solid footing (example A is the San Antonio Gunslingers, whose woes are told in entertaining detail) there were new teams who were run well and played competitive football such as the Birmingham Stallions and Memphis Showboats. The ocean that was the USFL seemed to be settling down despite some choppiness.
However, there was some disturbance in this ocean churned up by Trump. The motives behind Trump’s purchase of the Generals were being questioned, and they became clear when he announced to his fellow owners that the USFL needed to move to a fall schedule and compete directly with the NFL as soon as possible. This would be his best way to be an NFL owner as many believed that was his goal all along. 
This drama off the field was overshadowing the play on the field, which included a revolutionary offense by Gamblers' offensive coordinator Mouse Davis. Utilizing Kelly’s strong arm and a fleet of speedy receivers, the Gamblers became an offensive juggernaut, setting many professional football records for offense and becoming one of the elite teams. League officials were salivating at the thought of a Gamblers-Generals championship game for the league’s second season, but it was not to be. Instead, the Philadelphia Stars avenged their loss in the previous season by handily defeating the Arizona Wranglers to capture the 1984 USFL title.
The story of the next offseason was all about Trump. He kept on pushing his idea to his fellow owners that it would be in the best interest of the league to go head-to-head against the NFL. Just like with his businesses, he was one who got others to buy into his plan. Most of his fellow owners were on board with this plan, with the notable exception of one of the leagues more successful owners, Bassett. He was just as strong willed on his belief that the original goals of the league were to be followed as was Trump’s about playing in the fall. Sadly, Bassett developed brain cancer and as his health deteriorated, his influence on his colleagues dwindled until he passed away.
Without his biggest adversary, Trump pushed ahead with his agenda, filing an anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL and also getting the league to announce that 1985 was going to be the last season of spring football and the league would begin fall play in 1986. This lead to confusion both on and off the field. What was going to become of the players during such a long downtime?  How many teams would be willing to go against the NFL, as some stadiums would not allow the USFL team to play at the same time its primary tenant, the NFL team, would be using the facility?  What about the college draft? Of course, these questions were small potatoes compared to the big question – what would become of the league should the trial end in favor of the NFL?
All of this overshadowed the entire third season of the league, as the dominant team of the USFL, the now-Baltimore Stars defended their league title with a win over the Oakland Invaders in the championship game. The moves and merges of the league’s franchises were numerous and often had interesting anecdotes that were shared in the book. These two teams were included, as the Stars had to play games in Baltimore after their lease to play in Philadelphia was not renewed and the Invaders had many players from the Michigan Panthers after that team merged with the new Oakland franchise rather than compete with the NFL’s Lions when the league would start fall play.
The last, sad chapter of the league was the anti-trust trial. This was to be Trump’s finest hour, even with a questionable strategy and the death of the lawyer originally hired to represent the USFL, a lawyer who gained fame in the McCarthy-era trials against alleged Communists.  Even when writing about court proceedings, Pearlman is at his best. For the sake of those with weak stomachs, I will leave out Pearlman’s recap of an exchange between Trump and then-NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, but it is one that had me laughing so hard, I was in tears. The result is known to all interested in this league – the jury did find the NFL was guilty of violating anti-trust laws and awarded the USFL $1 – treble damages made the total amount $3. Of course, since the league was counting on this verdict for its future, it ceased operations soon thereafter and the players were free to sign with any NFL team.
Some made it, many didn’t and those whose one shot at pro football was through the USFL were saddened but look back upon those days fondly.  The NFL’s product on the field, while they may not admit it, was influenced by the upstart league after its demise. The New Orleans Saints hired Stars coach Jim Mora and signed many of the players he coached and, not coincidently, went from league laughingstock to playoff team in two seasons. The most innovative rules in the USFL – the two point conversion and instant replay reviews – have both been adopted by the NFL. While the league may not exist any longer, its memories live on.
Any reader who is a fan of Pearlman’s previous work, a fan of the USFL or football history, or who just likes an entertaining book on the game, must add this to their library. An outstanding work that is one of the best books I have read on any sport.
I wish to thank Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing an advance review copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Book Format Read:
E-book (Kindle)
Buying Links: