≡ Menu

Narrative Nonfiction 5: NFL Football Season!

nonfiction five button My love for football and great narrative sports writing have come up a couple of times on the blog, which makes today – the first game of the NFL season – the perfect day for a Narrative Nonfiction 5 on pro football.

Come tonight, I’ll be settled in with my roommate watching the Minnesota Vikings take on the New Orleans Saints and cheering for the team that consistently breaks my heart. I can’t wait.

If you like football at all, I think any one of these books would add to your appreciation of the sport and just how complicated it can be.

The Blind Side by Michael Lewis

The Blind Side

This is probably the most famous book on the list, given that it was such a successful movie last year. The Blind Side tells two stories – one about Michael Oher, a poor kid from Memphis taken in by a wealthy white family that helped turn him into a football prodigy. The second storyline is more specifically about football – the development of the left tackle position to be the second-highest paid player on a team (because the left tackle protects the teams most valuable player, the quarterback). The left tackle sections are a little stats heavy, but the inspiration of Michael Oher’s story more than makes up for that. (My Review)

A Few Seconds of Panic by Stefan Fatsis

A Few Seconds of Panic: A 5-Foot-8, 170-Pound, 43-Year-Old Sportswriter Plays in the NFL

The subtitle of this book pretty much sums it up – Stefan Fatsis wanted to find out what it’s like to be a player in the NFL, so he convinced the Denver Broncos to let him join the team for mini camp and training camp as a kicker. The book follows Fatsis’ progress as a kicker and what it means to be a player in the NFL – how fickle and complicated and unstable the whole enterprise can be. This is another pretty football heavy book – like The Blind Side – but one I really enjoyed. (My Review)

Paper Lion by George Plimpton

Paper Lion: Confessions of a Last-String Quarterback

This 1966 book was the inspiration for A Few Seconds of Panic. During the 1963 football season, Plimpton, a sports writer, joined the Detroit Lions with the impression that he was trying to be the team’s third-string quarterback. The coaches were aware, but the players didn’t know right away. The stunt showed how difficult it would be for an average person to play in the NFL, which only got more difficult by the time Fatsis tried it.

The Draft by Pete Williams

The Draft: A Year Inside the NFL’s Search for Talent

In this book, sports business writer Pete Williams looks at the NFL selection process, starting with the fall 2004 college football season through the April 2005 draft. The book covers the history of the draft, the preparation for the players, and what happens in the “interview process” of professional football. I haven’t read this, but reviews say the book is a little infomercial-esque. Still, I think it’d be an interesting primer to the football season.

Next Man Up by John Feinstein

Next Man Up: A Year Behind the Lines in Today’s NFL

This book covers the 2004 Baltimore Ravens’ football season, focusing pretty heavily on the lead-up to the season. Again, a book I haven’t read, but from what I’ve read it makes a pretty persuasive argument that professional football is the most dramatic of American sports and deserves our attention.

Bonus Books!

In doing research for this post, I found a few books on high school football that I wanted to include but didn’t quite fit the theme. They looked awesome though, so the’re here as a bonus.

Carry the Rock by Jay Jennings is about the football team in Little Rock after integration in 1957. It looks a bit like Remember the Titans.

Friday Night Lights by Buzz Bissinger is about high school football in Texas in the 1980s. I loved this book, and love the TV show it inspired.

Got any plans for NFL opening weekend? What’s your favorite football team? Any other favorite football books?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jenny September 9, 2010, 7:20 am

    My college football team is really the team that I love, but I know they’re going to break my heart. It’s so uncool that I became interested in football only after they won their last championship and now they don’t seem able to hold onto the ball. So I will be focusing the majority of my football lovin on professional football this year. Geaux Saints!

    (My sister would punch me if she knew I was saying this. She lives in New Orleans, and after the Saints won the Super Bowl she was almost unable to leave her house for a week. She couldn’t mail any of her PaperbackSwap books out because there were too many parades between her and the post office.)

    • Kim September 9, 2010, 6:09 pm

      Jenny: I’m a Vikings fan and a Colts fan, so I’ll be cheering against the Saints tonight. I’ve got the pre-game on in the background now and it looks totally insane in New Orleans. I can’t even imagine how nutty it was down there.

      I went to a division three college, so I never really got into college football. But boy, being a Vikings fan, I know the heartbreak.

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) September 9, 2010, 8:02 am

    I listened to The Blind Side and saw the movie and of course, I thought the book was much better. The class differences that were highlighted made me uncomfortable and I found that I didn’t like the Ohers as well in the book – they came across elitist at times to me.

    • Kim September 9, 2010, 6:10 pm

      Kathy: I liked the book a lot better as well — it was much more subtle than the movie and allowed for more ambiguity in the family and Michael’s choices. But the movie was emotional; I cried a bunch of times!

  • Jeane September 9, 2010, 10:38 am

    This is great! I’ve been looking for some football titles to teach me more about the sport while being entertaining too (my husband is an avid fan and I’m not). We have Paper Lion on the shelf, but I haven’t read it quite yet.

    • Kim September 9, 2010, 6:12 pm

      Jeane: I can’t wait to hear how Paper Lion is. I’ve been looking forward to it since I read the Fatsis book. I think the first two books would help explain football pretty well, and I thought they were both entertaining. The Next Man up also looks like it could do that, but I haven’t read it to be sure on that.

  • softdrink September 9, 2010, 9:00 pm

    Go Pack Go. Cheeseheads are way cooler than those dorky Vikings helmets with braids. Oh wait. You ARE a dork.


    • Care September 10, 2010, 7:17 am


    • Kim September 13, 2010, 7:28 pm

      Softdrink: Ha!! The helmets are dorky, but at least Vikings are fierce. Cheese just sits there 🙂

  • Care September 10, 2010, 7:16 am

    FOOTBALL!!! Go Chiefs! I’m reading the USAToday NFL preview right now but had to stop and chk your blog cuz I happen to be in Milwaukee as I type this, Gotta 15 minute layover on flt to OmNe. and I thought of you… and im on the crazy ipad thing and typing is annoying when in a hurry.

    • Lynne September 10, 2010, 7:48 am

      Care, you gotta get the wireless keyboard that goes with it! And speaking of the Chiefs, my son is a diehard Chiefs fan despite their losing record. He even named our dog KC. And we live in St. Louis.

      Go Rams.

  • Lynne September 10, 2010, 7:54 am

    Kim, I’m such a sports nut – whatever the sport, whatever the season – so I loved this post! I didn’t read Blind Side but saw the movie twice; and I didn’t cry until the end, but I must have saved it all up because I totally sobbed. Sandra Bullock was amazing.

    My son and I are also Friday Night Lights fanatics. It’s the best.

    • Kim September 13, 2010, 7:26 pm

      Lynne: I bawled a few different places in The Blind Side – it was ridiculous! And yeah, Sandra Bullock was pretty amazing. She really embodied her character. FNL is my FAVORITE tv show, I could watch the pilot a million times and still get choked up at the end of the game.

      • Lynne September 13, 2010, 8:00 pm

        The acting on FNL is soooo good. Wasn’t the mom up for an award at the Emmy’s but didn’t win? She should have. I also love the way they film it…not sure what that’s called, but they use a hand held camera and it feels like you’re right there in the scene with them.

        • Kim September 14, 2010, 7:17 pm

          Lynne: Yeah, both she and Kyle Chandler were up for Emmy’s this year. Both of them should have – they had terrific seasons this year.

  • toothybooks September 11, 2010, 11:30 pm

    i’m a bit of a sports junkie and i absolutely love this post! i’m adding all of those books to my tbr pile. i haven’t read any of those books, but I did watch The Blind Side and thought it was awesome.

    i know exactly how you feel about heartbreaks! i’m a texans fan and i can’t even begin to tell you how many tears i shed last season because of them.

    • Kim September 13, 2010, 7:27 pm

      toothybooks: The Vikings are just terrible for heartbreak. They’ll have an amazing season, then royally screw it up at the last minute in a way I could not even fathom. It’s absurd. I hope the Texans are better this year 🙂

  • Eva September 17, 2010, 1:59 pm

    Football! I was into it my last two years of college, because one of my roomies was a total football nut and explained everything to me. 😀 Then I skipped a couple years, and last year at the beginning of the season realised it’d be more fun if I had a team to root for. So I picked the Saints, kind of at random, and then they won the Super Bowl and now I’m a football fan for life. heehee

    Except, my dad’s a Steelers guy, so I don’t get to watch as many of the Saints games as I’d like to. :/

    Anyway, thanks for the recs! I’ve been wanting to try more sports nonfic. 😀

    • Kim September 17, 2010, 3:54 pm

      Eva: I wasn’t a football fan until a few years ago – it took a long time of absorbing information from watching with my mom and dad. I don’t get to watch as many Colts (my other team) games much, but I love it when I do. I hope you like whatever books you get the chance to read!