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An up-close look inside an NFL powerhouse, from the only writer in America who players and coaches would trust with their secrets. Despite--or perhaps because of--its immense popularity, the NFL remains one of the most secretive sports in America. John Feinstein goes behind the scenes of this closed sport as he takes his readers through an NFL season--all the ups and downs, the procession from 100 degree heat in training camp to frigid cold in January, and the week-to-week pressures faced by the coaches and players--in an incredibly illuminating and entertaining look at the most lucrative sport in America. NEXT MAN UP highlights the Baltimore Ravens, one of the most watched and dramatic NFL teams in recent years. Like many teams, the Ravens have faced extreme obstacles--in their case, players in prison, under indictment, and injured--but they've still managed to play at an extremely high level, winning their first Super Bowl in 2001 against the New York Giants. From the first strategy sessions of a new season to the last down of the final game, John Feinstein reveals the intensity, spirituality, and near life-or-death drama of professional football as it's never been revealed before.
- ISBN-13: 0316009644
- ISBN-10: 0316009644
- Publisher: Little Brown and Company
- Publish Date: October 2005
- Page Count: 502
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 53.
- Review Date: 2005-08-15
- Reviewer: Staff
According to the punchy start of this sprawling, in-depth account of the 2004 Baltimore Ravens' season, you can forget about all the other pretenders to the throne: pro football is (at least in and around cities that have a franchise) America's sport. Furthermore, Feinstein, bestselling author of A Good Walk Spoiled, persuasively argues that pro football is the most dramatic American sport, with its many deeply religious players, limited media access and comparatively low number of games, which are all then accorded life-or-death status. Given excellent access to the Ravens operation, Feinstein is, not surprisingly, very generous with his subjects, painting evenhanded portraits of the players (many of whom, like Jamal Lewis and Deion Sanders, have had plenty of bad press over the years) and even more neutral portrayals of management, especially coach Brian Billick. The runup to the first game of the young franchise's ninth season is so assiduously documented, the season itself is almost an afterthought, though the games are smartly and excitingly rendered. Feinstein wisely avoids the grandiloquent hyperbole often found in sportswriting; there are no references to deities or Greek heroes here. This hefty tome will surely keep football fans happy between games. Agent, Esther Newberg. (Oct. 17)