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Sports Books for the Holidays

Well, the Josh Freeman excitement continues to build in Tampa and extended communities. I’m officially all in for the Josh Freeman era after two great games. Yes, he had some ball control issues, but his crunch time poise is exceptional thus far. Defensively, we need some playmakers. As we head into the holiday crunch, you may be wondering what to put on your holiday shopping list. Since Target will not be stocking run-stuffing, All-Pro defensive tackles, I thought I’d give you my five favorite sports books to add to your holiday wish list. Check them out after the jump:



1. Next Man Up by John Feinstein. Feinstein spent a year with the Baltimore Ravens and takes you inside the draft room, the roster selection process, and the toughness and contradictions of an NFL locker room. Readers learn the back stories of backup offensive linemen, as well as famous faces like Ray Lewis. I especially enjoyed the stories of nondescript players. With age, I’ve learned that the NFL is not always a dream come true for all players. The game grinds up their bodies as they play through broken arms, back surgery, and other ailments. I have tremendous respect for all players, even the 53rd man on the roster. This book is a great read for all football fans.

2. The Blind Side by Michael Lewis. Now, I haven’t seen it, but I probably won’t like the big screen adaption. Michael Lewis asserts that the Lawrence Taylor sack that broke Joe Theismann’s leg made premium left tackles the second most important position on the football team, behind quarterback. Highlighting the search by coaches and scouting staffs for players with enough size, power, and athleticism to protect the quarterback’s blind side, Lewis comes across the story of Ole Miss sophomore (at the time) Michael Oher. Oher was essentially homeless, the 14th child of a crack addicted mother, who’d never played organized football. His story is quite amazing and illustrates not only the gifts required to be an NFL player, but that in life, we need parents or adults to be advocates and driving forces in the lives of children. I’m not sure this will translate well with Sandra Bullock.

3. The Education of a Coach by David Halberstam. Halberstam gives you the life story of Bill Belichick, often considered the best coach in the NFL. The fascinating portrait of Belichick details his childhood around the game of football, as his dad was a scout for the Naval Academy, his first unpaid coaching internship, and his mysterious association with Ernie Adams. Of note, the book basically says that Belichick did not win the Super Bowl versus the Rams as much as Mike Martz’s stubbornness lost it. Well written, insightful, and engrossing, this book is a great read for those arm chair coaches.

4. Boys Will Be Boys by Jeff Pearlman. The dynasty of the 1990’s, the Dallas Cowboys were a band of brash characters. From Michael Irvin stabbing a teammate with scissors to Charles Haley’s constant displays of his manhood in team meetings, Jimmy Johnson built a team of colorful, but talented players. The book outlines the rise of the team from a 1-15 disaster with young Troy Aikman to three-time Super Bowl Champions. The book is a great study of the double-edged sword of talent and fame, where the attributes that bring you money and adulation lead to the excess and hubris that take it all away. Great story.

5. Tales from Q School by John Feinstein. I’ve never been a big golfer, it takes too much time and I lose patience by the ninth hole. For professional golfers, the game is both a passion and a tormenter. A very small gap in talent separates the chosen few with PGA tour cards from those struggling to make a living at the game. Feinstein brings you the story of old professionals and young hopefuls playing the Q course tournament to make the PGA tour. The book is a great story about persistence, failure, ultimate success, and the torture of watching your dream fall away.

What books top your list?