Whether you’re a fan looking for inspiration from your favorite players or seeking to learn more about the sport, here are a handful of must-read books on American Football, from triumphant inside stories to groundbreaking revelations and more.
An acclaimed sportswriter offers an inside look at the Black quarterbacks whose skill and grit transformed the NFL
In Rocket Men, John Eisenberg offers the definitive history of Black quarterbacks in the NFL—men who shaped not only the history of football but the cause of civil rights in America. From early pioneers like Fritz Pollard to groundbreaking modern standouts like Marlin Briscoe and James “Shack” Harris, Black quarterbacks had to be twice as good as their white counterparts to get playing time—and even then, many never got that chance. That didn’t begin to change in earnest until the 1990s and the 2000s, when racist notions about what Black quarterbacks supposedly couldn’t do began to fade, paving the way for today’s stars like Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson.
Drawing on deep historical research and exclusive interviews with Black quarterbacks and players, coaches, and talent evaluators who have worked alongside them, Rocket Men is a celebration of the athletes and activists who transformed the game.
Super Bowl XLII was the greatest upset in NFL history. In A GIANT WIN, Coach Tom Coughlin recounts the strategies and people that made it possible.
Coach Coughlin reveals the intricacies of the game, revealing details only a coach would know. He also details, more than ever before, his relationships with some of the greatest, most iconic players of those Giants teams, like Eli Manning and Michael Strahan.
A GIANT WIN also provides a frame for Coach Coughlin to discuss his life in football—including his years with the Giants as an assistant coach in the late 1980s and 1990, when he helped win a Super Bowl working under Hall of Fame Head Coach Bill Parcells and alongside the coach he’d oppose in Super Bowl XLII: Bill Belichick.
A GIANT WIN is a self-portrait of one of football history’s most successful coaches during his signature game.
Three days before the 1969 Super Bowl, Joe Namath promised the nation that he would lead the New York Jets to an 18-point underdog victory against the seemingly invincible Baltimore Colts. When the final whistle blew, that promise had been kept.
Namath was instantly heralded as a gridiron god, while his rugged good looks, progressive views on race, and boyish charm quickly transformed him – in an era of raucous rebellion, shifting social norms, and political upheaval – into both a bona fide celebrity and a symbol of the commercialization of pro sports. By 26, with a championship title under his belt, he was quite simply the most famous athlete alive.
Although his legacy has long been cemented in the history books, beneath the eccentric yet charismatic personality was a player plagued by injury and addiction, both sex and substance. When failing knees permanently derailed his career, he turned to Hollywood and endorsements, not to mention a tumultuous marriage and fleeting bouts of sobriety, to try and find purpose. Now 74, Namath is ready to open up, brilliantly using the four quarters of Super Bowl III as the narrative backbone to a life that was anything but charmed.
As much about football and fame as about addiction, fatherhood, and coming to terms with our own mortality, All the Way finally reveals the man behind the icon.
The groundbreaking story of the National Women’s Football League, and the players whose spirit, rivalries, and tenacity changed the legacy of women’s sports forever.
In 1967, a Cleveland promoter recruited a group of women to compete as a traveling football troupe. It was conceived as a gimmick—in the vein of the Harlem Globetrotters—but the women who signed up really wanted to play. And they were determined to win.
Hail Mary chronicles the highs and lows of the National Women’s Football League, which took root in nineteen cities across the US over the course of two decades. Drawing on new interviews with former players from the Detroit Demons, the Toledo Troopers, the LA Dandelions, and more, Hail Mary brings us into the stadiums where they broke records, the small-town lesbian bars where they were recruited, and the backrooms where the league was formed, championed, and eventually shuttered. In an era of vibrant second wave feminism and Title IX activism, the athletes of the National Women’s Football League were boisterous pioneers on and off the field: you’ll be rooting for them from start to finish.
As an All-American at Ohio State and All-Pro linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ryan Shazier was living his best life while excelling at the game he loves, a game that has given him so much. But then Ryan was forced to redefine success. Suddenly, it was no longer measured by tackles or sacks, but by purpose and faith.
WALKING MIRACLE is the story of this new definition of success, following the arc from December 4, 2017, when Shazier was injured playing the Cincinnati Bengals, to his retirement. For three years, Shazier doggedly pursued a return to professional football. He took small wins as “first downs” on the drive to return to the field: moving his toes, walking, dancing at his wedding, and ultimately running and returning to the team. What Shazier didn’t realize is that along the way, he was preparing himself for another purpose—that of father and husband, philanthropist, and football analyst. The journey was preparing him not for a renewed life as a middle linebacker, but a renewed life after the game.
Here we see Shazier overcome childhood alopecia, which caused a great deal of emotional pain, and scoliosis, which nearly robbed him of his dreams of playing college and professional football. We gain insights into legendary coaches Urban Meyer and Mike Tomlin. And we see him star on the field. Shazier was one of the best defensive players in Steeler history—a history full of great defensive stars.
WALKING MIRACLE—the message on a bracelet given to him by his godmother—is the story of Ryan’s comeback, but it’s also a book of life’s lessons, challenges, and a love letter to the power of positive thinking.
The 1986 New York Giants are legendary. A championship team coached by Bill Parcells and his wunderkind assistant Bill Belichick, featuring future Hall of Famers and All-Pros like Phil Simms, Lawrence Taylor, Mark Bavaro, and Harry Carson. They were dominant on the field and formed a unique and lasting bond off of it. More than thirty years later, it's the friendships that have proved more important–a matter of life and death.
In Once a Giant, bestselling football writer Gary Myers tells the story of that team and what became of it. Gridiron glory eventually faded; chronic pain, addiction, and in some cases crimes have followed. Many football players face these harsh realities, but the Giants have confronted and survived them together.
With unprecedented access, Myers dives into such issues as Mark Bavaro's battle with injuries, the breakup and reconciliation of Parcells and Belichick, and Lawrence Taylor's struggles with sobriety. He creates a never-before-seen portrait of the team's run to the title, and their even more challenging fight to live after it ended.
“You’re mad at me, but I am killing you.”—NBA star Gary Payton
“Find the hate.”—NFL star Warren Sapp
“Why can’t you be more like Rafi Kohan?”—your mom, probably
Whether in basketball, football, or MMA, athletes talk trash to each other—and sometimes to fans—like it’s their job. And in some ways, it is: sports only matter if we decide to care about them. And insulting your opponent, or playing the heel, is probably the fastest route to making someone care. Talking smack is as old as the bible; it’s perhaps the original sport.
But until now, there’s never been a book about it.
In this lively, often hilarious history, Rafi Kohan interviews some of the world’s top competitors—on the petty rivalries and mind games that fuel them. He talks to point guards and soccer strikers, cricketers and insult comedians, forming a theory along the way about the surprising and influential role that name-calling plays in our world.
Brilliantly original and wide-ranging, Trash Talk is a book for sports fans, culture mavens, or anyone looking to get an edge.