“Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football” by Rich Cohen
Football, professional, history, Bears
October 29, 2013
3 ½ of 5 stars (Good)
The 1985 Chicago Bears are considered by some to be the greatest team – for one season – in NFL history. Between the storied legend of the team, the loyal fans and the reputation of the “Monsters of the Midway”, this was a team that was certain to have a book written about them. Rich Cohen has done just that with “Monsters.” In the book’s description, it states that this book is “a portrait not merely of a team but of a city and a game.” This is an accurate account of the book, as well as adding personal stories from both Cohen and members of that team.
Cohen writes this book as a fan, not as a journalist or historian. That has both its good and bad moments in this book. He does share some great stories about the players, especially Gary Fencik, for whom the team’s famous “46” defense is named and also the team’s head coach Mike Ditka. The quarterback, Jim McMahon, was always good for great stories and they are shared here as well. I also thought that Cohen’s stories about his fandom, the city of Chicago, and what he would do when he was interviewing the players were entertaining. Like I said, this book was written from a fan’s point of view and that is always a refreshing viewpoint.
By doing so, the sections that talk about the football on field were entertaining and anecdotal. What these would lack in analysis and statistics, they made up for with rich descriptions of the atmosphere, the action on the field and the thoughts of people who were there. I felt that the two chapters on the one loss the team suffered in Miami and the game in Minnesota where McMahon came off the bench to rally the Bears to a victory were the best stories about games during the season.
Something that was not done well with this book was proofreading. I did find a couple of grammatical errors and this error that surprised me by not being caught. During the section on Gale Sayers, Cohen shares a story about nearly hitting a deer with his car. He avoided the deer by “slamming on the breaks.” These kinds of errors I find to be distracting and can take away from the value of a story or even the book as a whole. Because this was such an obvious error that wasn’t caught, I felt this and the few others I found were a distraction.
Now, you might also be thinking, “What does hitting a deer have to do with football?” That is a fair question, and my other main issue with the book – at times, I didn’t believe the personal stories that Cohen was sharing were relevant to the team or the season they were having. Because I am not a Bears fan or a Chicago resident, I may have missed something that would connect these together. I found myself trying to connect these instead of concentrating on the pages at hand which was another distraction for me.
Despite these, I still found this book an entertaining read and I believe that anyone who is a Bears fan or a Chicago sports fan will enjoy this book. Well worth the time to read it.
I wish to thank NetGalley for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Did I skim?
Pace of the book:
While it didn’t have any slow or tedious sections, I did have trouble connecting the author’s personal stories with what was being discussed about the Bears or the NFL at times. When this would happen, I would re-read certain passages trying to make the connection. That would slow down my reading pace for this book.
Do I recommend?
Yes - fans of the Chicago Bears or pro football history will enjoy reading this book.
Book Format Read: