America’s Game

Dey St: HarperCollins. Oct. 2019. 544p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062692900. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062692924. SPORTS
For this history of the NFL’s first 100 years, three-time Super Bowl champion and Hall of Famer Rice and sportswriter Williams have organized their book into four quarters, each consisting of 25 years. Unfortunately, they do not stick to that chronological format. After the first quarter, 1920–44, each succeeding quarter becomes less and less concerned with the time period and more driven by topical chapters with content that spans the full range of the NFL’s first century. Chapters on the best quarterbacks, running backs, and business-oriented owners interrupt the flow and are generally given superficial treatment. The only three recurring themes are chapters on each era’s top coaches, top postseason games, and its all-time team. Most sections read like sidebars, sometimes with actual sidebars within them. This topical approach also leads to repetition at times, with some intriguing factual nuggets and many quotes from veteran sportswriters and mostly modern players, but the authors tend to fudge over details and go with anecdotal apocrypha too much.
VERDICT This is more an unfocused grab bag than a book with a coherent narrative.

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