Books about football

I am currently reading The Blind Side, about Michael Oher’s high school years. It is teaching me a lot about left tackle, the West Coast offense, and Lawrence Taylor (what a jerk!).

Does anybody know of any other highly-readable football books that will teach me more about the game? The biographical angle works well for me, but other non-fiction would be OK as long as it doesn’t assume tons of prior knowledge. For current level of knowledge, I watch enough football to know when good stuff is happening, but don’t know what each person on the field is up to. My goal is to watch every regular season Patriots game this year and to understand what is going on. No anti-Patriots commentary, please; I am Massachusetts born and raised.

I am also interested in learning about hockey, too, so feel free to tell me about hockey books as well. Most of my hockey knowledge is derived from the similarities it has to soccer, which I played for a number of years.


If you really want to understand the game, then two pieces of fiction are recommended: North Dallas Forty and The Franchise, both by Peter Gent.

I haven’t read Chris Brown’s The Essential Smart Football, but his blog is great, and his writing at Grantland is good too.

I enjoyed No Medals For Trying by Jerry Izenberg. He writes about a week he spent embedded with the New York Giants as they prepared for a significant late-season game against the Philadelphia Eagles in 1989.

I’ll second silenus’ recommendation of North Dallas Forty. (I haven’t read The Franchise, but I’d like to.) It’s set in the early 1970’s, so the landscape is a bit different but it’s still a pretty nice read. I found Peter Gent to be an entertaining writer; he’s a former NFL player, which make the details of his fictional account seem both frightening and realistic.

Sounds like a job for Football for Dummies.

Seriously. Written specifically for someone who knows little to nothing about the game. It details all the X’s and O’s from scratch without getting all technical, and includes a very broad history of the game and significant players and coaches from the past that you should know, all written in a very easy-to-read and approachable way.

America’s Game is absolutely the one book to read if it is the NFL in particular you are interested in learning how it came to be the behemoth that it is.

Thanks, everyone! I will start requesting these books at my library.

Go, Pats!

An interesting cross of Presidential biography and football history is The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football. Understanding some of the history and evolution of football explains some of the things you still see in the rules today, even if they’re not very common.

Pat Kirwan is a former NFL exec who now is an analyst for and Sirius NFL Radio. He has a book called “Take Your Eye Off the Ball”, which is, from what I’ve read, very informative about the game.

While it’s dated, and not particularly about the Xs and Os, George Plimpton’s Paper Lion is still a classic, and a very funny, entertaining read.

It is also dated and not particularly about X & Os either, but Jerry Kramer & Dick Schaap 's “Instant Replay” is also a classic. Link

Instant Replay by Jerry Kramer.

Kramer was a starting guard for every one of Green Bay Packer Coach Vince Lombardi’s championship teams,
including the first two Superbowls.

Agreed on Instant Replay (though, as a Packer fan, I may be slightly biased :wink: ). Similarly, if one is interested in reading about Vince Lombardi and the Packers of that era, I’d highly recommend David Maraniss’s When Pride Still Mattered.

Friday Night Lights the inspiration for the television show is a goodone about Texas high school football.

Interference by Dan Moldea is old and out of print but still available. It concerns the gambling element and will probably convince you to not bet on the game.

I never read New England Patriots 101 but it sounds as if you would like to.

I’m reading this now (it’s available in the Kindle/Prime library), but I’m not excited about it so far. It seems to lack readability, and also presume a bit more preknowledge than the OP professes to have.