The Last Headbangers: NFL Football in the Rowdy, Reckless '70's: The Era That Created Modern Sports

Norton. Sept. 2012. c.304p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780393080162. $26.95. SPORTS
Tied to the 40th anniversary of perhaps the most famous play in NFL history, the Immaculate Reception of Franco Harris that enabled Pittsburgh to beat Oakland in the closing seconds of a 1972 playoff game, this vibrant history of 1970s pro football focuses not only on the players but on how the game was played. The author's contention is that the decade was the end of an era in which the players ruled on the field and coaches played a much smaller role than today. In that freewheeling time, the game was played often with a savage brutality best exemplified in the period's prime hard-hitting rivalry of the Steelers and Raiders to determine the league's dominant team. While the successes of the 1970s Dolphins, Cowboys, and Vikings are noted, the emphasis here is on the two teams in black jerseys. The rise of Bill Walsh's scripted 49ers in 1981 is seen as the onset of the contemporary game played more as a coaches' chess match. The only problem with this book (at least in galleys) is that it is riddled with minor inaccuracies that are distracting to knowledgeable readers.
VERDICT A well-told tale of interest to all football fans.
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