Tonight, the National Football League and the betting on same return to thrill America. Sure, you know the quarterback rating of all the miserable underperformers who have gone under center for your team since the Kennedy administration. Why not add some important knowledge to your show-offing game? The University of Illinois Press, the publisher most closely affiliated with Red Grange’s galloping alma mater, has drawn up a game plan for your football trivia dominance that not only includes X’s and O’s but the other twenty-four letters of the alphabet. Dig deep. Power through the paper cuts. Show the world your high-motor reading comprehension skills.

oriardThe End of Autumn: Reflections on My Life in Football, by Michael Oriard
At the age of eighteen Michael Oriard entered Notre Dame and walked onto the football team, where studying hard was never harder. By his senior year, playing for Ara Parseghian’s Fighting Irish, he was the starting center and co-captain of the team. With the Kansas City Chiefs he learned what it meant to be “owned.” In this thoughtful narrative, Oriard describes the dreams of glory, the game day anxieties, the brutal training camps and harsh practices, his starry-eyed experience at Notre Dame, and the cold-blooded business of professional football. Told from the inside, the book leaves aside the hype and the pathos of the game to present a direct and honest account of the personal rewards but also the costs players paid to make others rich and entertained. In a new afterword, Oriard reflects on the process of writing the book and how the game has changed in the thirty years since his “retirement” from football at the age of twenty-six.

carrollRed Grange and the Rise of Modern Football, by John M. Carroll
Before the Super Bowl, before “Monday Night Football,” even before the NFL, there was Red Grange. Catapulted into the public eye in 1924 by scoring four touchdowns in twelve minutes for the University of Illinois, the “Galloping Ghost” went on to a trailblazing career as a professional player, Hollywood football idol, and broadcaster. He ranked with Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey in the 1920s as the most heralded figures in America’s “golden age of sport,” and when Sports Illustrated did a special issue in 1991 on the greatest moments in sports, Grange was selected for the cover.

John Carroll depicts the career of this softspoken pioneer who helped lift pro football above its reputation as “a dirty little business run by rogues and bargain-basement entrepreneurs.” A reluctant celebrity and folk hero, Red Grange stood throughout his life as a symbol of older, rural American values: an unpretentious self-made individual making a mark in a society increasingly controlled by machines, vast corporations, and stifling bureaucracies. His story is an essential element in understanding football’s central place in American culture.

gorn and goldsteinA Brief History of American Sports, second edition, by Elliott J. Gorn and Warren Goldstein
Where did our games and pastimes came from? How did they develop? What have they meant to Americans?

The great heroes of baseball and football people this new look at our sports from Elliott J. Gorn and Warren Goldstein. So do the most dramatic moments of boxing and basketball. From there, the authors show us how sports fit into the larger contours of our past. This new edition includes updated discussions of performance-enhancing drugs; player salaries, unions, and the business of internationalizing sport; Title IX and gender in American sports; race, especially the entry of Latino and Asian athletes; and the corporatization of amateur athletics. A Brief History of American Sports reveals that from colonial times to the present, sports have been central to American culture and a profound expression of who we are.

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