Pigskin Primer, 2014

The casual viewer might not ponder a university press and the manly art of football at the same time. Assuming a scholarly publisher covered sports at all, wouldn’t it devote its energy to obscure ball games played by ancient Mayans, or maybe that preppie rowing thing where one person in the boat just shouts all the time?

As Keith Jackson might say: Nosirrrreeeee.

Here at UIP, we share sacred athletic ground with the likes of Hall of Famer Dick Butkus, a man who, according to legend, once punched a milk horse on the site where the press building now stands. (Note: this is not true.) (Note II: that joke was borrowed from U. of Illinois alum Henry Blake, played by McLean Stevenson on M*A*S*H*.)

We also publish an ever-expanding list of books that break down America’s Game: football. In fact, we so believe in the glory of football that we think President Gerald R. Ford had the right perspective on the sport when he said, “If I had gone into professional football the name Jerry Ford might have been a household word today.” Tee up the Kindle. Keep both hands on that hardcover. Here’s a roster of impact books that uses X’s and O’s, and all the other letters, to give you something to do after you use the mute button on Dan Dierdorf.

Keepers of the Flame: NFL Films and the Rise of Sports Media, by Travis Vogan

Keepers of the FlameRousing music. The Yahweh-like baritone of the great John Facenda. NFL Films transformed football into epic poetry, changing the way Americans view football but also altering the very way we perceive it. Why also do you hear classical music every time you see gloved hands reaching for a spiral in majestic slow motion? Travis Vogan shows how NFL Films constructed a consistent, romanticized, and remarkably visible mythology for the National Football League. His insightful story also goes beyond the gridiron to portray the company’s relationship with, and vast influence on, American representations of sport, the expansion of sports television beyond live game broadcasts, and the emergence of cable television and Internet sports media.


NFL Football: A History of America’s New National Pastime, by Richard C. Crepeau

NFL Football - Richard CrepeauRichard C. Crepeau goes behind the scenes to reveal how the NFL went from a barely noticed club sport to the multi-billion-dollar colossus and cultural phenomenon at the center of American sports. He pays particular attention to Pete Rozelle, the mastermind behind the league’s takeover of Monday night, its blending of celebrity with athletics, and the transformation of Super Bowl Sunday into one of the country’s most beloved secular holidays. But, really, it’s all here, the labor unrest, the TV contracts, and all the other forces that shaped the league off the field and often determined a team’s success on it.




The End of Autumn: Reflections on My Life in Football, by Michael Oriard

The End of AutumnA walk-on who became a co-captain of Notre Dame’s football squad during the Ara Parseghian era, Michael Oriard went on to witness the grim realities of the pro game with the Kansas City Chiefs. There he became “owned” by a team and played alongside grown men who were still treated like children and who dreaded nothing more than the end of their football careers. A classic of sports literature, The End of Autumn relates the experiences of an ordinary player in a bygone era before ESPN, before the BCS, and before million-dollar salaries and concussion tests.