Synopses & Reviews
On November 17, 1968, the Oakland Raiders staged a last-minute comeback against the New York Jets, scoring two touchdowns in the final minute for a dramatic finale. But there was a problem: no one saw it. NBC, broadcasting the game nationally, cut away with 1:01 remaining and the Jets still leading to air a previously scheduled movie, Heidi
. The ensuing public outcry was so significant that the rules for football broadcasting were quickly and forever changed.
In this perceptive, finely argued book, Gregg Easterbrook shows that the so-called "Heidi Bowl" was not just an isolated bizarre moment. It was the beginning of the football era in America. The sport boomed alongside television, soon becoming our national campfire--one of the few points of agreement across the political spectrum and a genuine source of community even as religion's influence waned. It is no coincidence, Easterbrook argues, that we now see in football the same issues that we perceive elsewhere in America--including recent problems with bullying, violence against women, racial injustice, and financial skulduggery.
These problems are significant, and many have been moved to limit their engagement with the NFL's venal culture--or boycott it entirely. Yet as Easterbrook shows, there's something here worth saving. He expounds on the benefits of football, and throws its many problems into relief, finally arguing that the work of reforming and changing one of our great pastimes is American as the game itself.
At a time when the reputation of the National Football League is under siege Easterbrook (The King of Sports) a contributing editor at the Atlantic and the Washington Monthly defends the sport but scolds its governing organization which he calls “broken and needing reform.” Easterbrook examines the public fallout stemming from the New England Patriots’ “Deflategate” scandal the chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) lawsuit and its massive cash settlement for ailing veteran players the domestic assault debacle involving former running back Ray Rice and various changes to rules in order to safeguard current players. He describes how the ambitious NFL empire brings in billions in revenue for the major TV networks and cable systems yet he blasts the diminishing power of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell calling him “a water boy who makes eight figures.” In a series of familiar arguments Easterbrook speaks of football as a sport of civic pride a way to lift boys out of poverty and a game that mirrors America’s obsession with violence and organized mayhem; some segments such as the dull poetic bits and hastily assembled highlight reel of memorable moments feel like filler. (Dec.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
and#147;Easterbrook...is a serious author with serious points to make.and#8221; and#150;The New York Times
and#147;Easterbrook...writes nothing that is not brilliant.and#8221; and#150;Chicago Tribune
About the Author
Gregg Easterbrook is the author of nine books, including The King of Sports, The Progress Paradox, The Here and Now and Sonic Boom. He is a contributing editor of The Atlantic Monthly and The Washington Monthly, and a former columnist for ESPN.com. He has been a distinguished fellow of the Fulbright Foundation, a visiting fellow of the Brookings Institution, and a political columnist for Reuters.