The Last Headbangers: NFL Football in the Rowdy, Reckless

The Last Headbangers: NFL Football in the Rowdy, Reckless '70s: the Era that Created Modern Sports Between the Immaculate Reception inand The Catch in , pro football grew up In , Steelers star Franco Harris hitchhiked to practice NFL teams roomed in skanky motels They played on guts, painkillers, legal steroids, fury, and camaraderie A decade later, Joe Montana s gleamingly efficient ers ushered in a new era the corporate, scripted, multibillion dollar NFL we watch today Kevin Cook s rollicking chronicle of this pivotal decade draws on interviews with legendary players Harris, Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Ken Snake Stabler to re create their heroics and off field carousing He shows coaches John Madden and Bill Walsh outsmarting rivals as Monday Night Football redefined sports place in American life Celebrating the game while lamenting the physical toll it took on football s greatest generation, Cook diagrams the NFL s transformation from second tier sport into national obsession The Last Headbangers is a fantastic book that follows the NFL through the 1970 s, making a point to track the moments when the league went from body throwing reckless mayhem tocalculated studied assaults Kevin Cook predominantly chronicles the bitter and brutal rivalry between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Oakland Raiders These teams seemed to best embody what is often mentioned as smash mouth football The Last Headbangers is exceptionally fun to read It is full of ridiculous chara The Last Headbangers is a fantastic book that follows the NFL through the 1970 s, making a point to track the moments when the league went from body throwing reckless mayhem tocalculated studied assaults Kevin Cook predominantly chronicles the bitter and brutal rivalry between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Oakland Raiders These teams seemed to best embody what is often mentioned as smash mouth football The Last Headbangers is exceptionally fun to read It is full of ridiculous characters who would seem farlike caricatures if they weren t in fact real , on field violence and high jinks, and post game partying that was often as epic as the game itself Most of all, the book for me was nostalgic Though I wasn t alive in the 1970 s, reading about the game during that period is like reading about a different sport entirely Players made between 30 and 60 thousand dollars per year, endorsements were almost non existent, and rivalries were full of hatred I m all for player protection, making the game safer, and building a business However the rivalry portions are what struck me as the greatest missing factor from the game today Teams hated one another Player hated one another People played for teams for 10 years orThese are the best versions of football because they amount to one thing loyalty to the team name as opposed to the player name.A dark cloud hovers over the entire book and that dark cloud is called CTE The author doesn t primarily focus on the disease, but he does write about it and interview players about their post career lives and troubles Knowing what we know now about head trauma, it is hard to believe the game ever existed as it did, like some barbarian relic of a time long gone However it did, and to hear it talked about by the players who lived it is fascinating stuff I recommend this book to any football fanever I also would toss in the book Badasses by Peter Richmond Both are highly entertaining quick reads A really fun book to read on football from 1972 to 1982 Starts with Franco Harris catch in 1972 against the Raiders and ends with Dwight Clark s catch against the Cowboys in 1982 Football sure was different A lot of nicknames, dynasties and oh yeah, hard hitting Football seems to have no hard hitting any as the NFL is gearedtoward offense now than 40 years ago You learn about hard hitters in this book such as Jack Tatum, Jack Lambert, mean Joe Greene, Lawrence Taylore a little A really fun book to read on football from 1972 to 1982 Starts with Franco Harris catch in 1972 against the Raiders and ends with Dwight Clark s catch against the Cowboys in 1982 Football sure was different A lot of nicknames, dynasties and oh yeah, hard hitting Football seems to have no hard hitting any as the NFL is gearedtoward offense now than 40 years ago You learn about hard hitters in this book such as Jack Tatum, Jack Lambert, mean Joe Greene, Lawrence Taylore a little and others You also will read a lot about such dominant teams in the 1970s such as the Pittsburgh Steelers and how they got Terry Bradshaw, the Oakland Raiders and their rivalry with Pittsburgh, the Miami Dolphins and how they went 17 0, the Dallas Cowboys and Roger Staubach, the Minnesota Vikings and how they went to four Super Bowls but lost them all and then the book ends with the 49ers and how they started a new era with Dwight Clark s catch This book also, however, talks about the dangers and why the NFL is gearedtoward safety now as it talks about Darryl Stingley and the loss of his ability to walk This book for most people will be a five, hands down I rated it only a four because I read too much and a lot of these stories I had read about in other books For football fans that don t read as often as I do, a real can t miss read If you also liked The Ones that Hit the Hardest you ll love this My interest in American Football post dates the period this book covers by several decades Although many names crop up from time to time in contemporary coverage The Last Headbangers is an interesting look at a time when the sport, and the society in which the sport was played, was very different It s an entertaining romp through the period with a good mixture of contemporary sources andrecent interviews Recommended as a thoroughly entertaining read. Loved pro football in the 70 s and this helps memorialize it.

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