Books for football fans, and anyone who likes a good story

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Football season is almost upon us and there are lots of great football books out there for kids and adults. I’ve added to a previous list to include several biographies and one of the best feel-good stories out there, a memoir by Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles.

You don’t have to be an avid football fan to appreciate these stories, so take a look and see what I mean!


Believe It: My Journey of Success, Failure, and Overcoming the Odds by Nick Foles: a first-person account of the journey that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles experienced in the 2017 season, which culminated in the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory. After entering the season as the backup, he was thrust into the starting role after the starting quarterback, Carson Wentz, tore his ACL. Foles embraced his faith in God and overcame countless odds to achieve the greatest feat in an NFL season—winning a championship.


Football for a Buck by Jeff Pearlman:  This book highlights the rise and fall of the United States Football League (USFL), which lasted for three seasons in the 1980s. It dives into the incredible highs that the league experienced, such as enticing the talents of Steve Young, Jim Kelly and Reggie White to play in the league. But it also goes into detail on the laundry list of reasons why the league failed so quickly, as well as its ties to current US President, Donald Trump, who was one of the league’s team owners.


Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger:  Excellent account of the Permian Panthers high school football team in Odessa, Texas, the “winningest team in Texas history.” Bissinger chronicles the 1988 season and tells the story of the small town that revolves around Friday night games and elevates its players to hero status. If you like to know the real story behind ultra-competitive high school football programs, check out the book and the movie. And for those who like the relationship drama behind any story, the television series is a good choice.


Gunslinger by Jeff Pearlman:  Excellent biography of Brett Favre, one of the most famous NFL quarterbacks to play the game. Favre’s career lasted nearly two decades, playing for the Green Bay Packers and later, the New York Jets and Packers’ rivals, the Minnesota Vikings. Pearlman provides an in-depth look at the ups and downs of Favre’s career and the complex character behind the football legend.


Million Dollar Throw by Mike Lupica:  Great young adult book. A story of 13-year-old Nate, star quarterback for his 8th grade football team. Nate gets a chance to win a million dollars if he throws a thirty-yard pass through a target during half-time at a New England Patriots game. The companion story is about Nate and his best friend Abby who are struggling with health and family issues. Nate’s parents are under financial stress and Abby is losing her eyesight due to a rare condition. These pressures affect Nate’s performance on the football field and, what seemed like a fun contest suddenly becomes too much.


QB1 by Mike Lupica:  a feel-good read geared towards the middle school or early high school reader. Two Texas quarterback brothers, four years apart and sons to a famous quarterback whose NFL career was cut short, Wyatt and Jake Cullen have different challenges. Wyatt is a freshman quarterback for the Texas Longhorns and is living his father’s dream. Younger brother Jake has lived in Wyatt’s shadow for as long as he can remember. The story begins when Jake enters ninth grade as the third-string quarterback, for a coach and team that are still celebrating big brother Wyatt’s leadership the season before.


Sweetness by Jeff Pearlmana post by Austin Vitelli about the life of NFL legend Walter Payton. He wrote it after reading Sweetness by Jeff Pearlman, a biography about Payton. If you’re not a football fan, you may not know the name, but Walter Payton is the namesake of the annual NFL Man of the Year award.

Vitelli writes, “One thing I struggled with throughout the book was weighing the good and bad in Payton’s life. Payton was likely one of the nicest and most genuinely caring NFL players ever. But he also made lots of questionable decisions that seemingly get left out in many people’s stories of him.”


Through My Eyes by Tim Tebow:  Interesting memoir about Tim Tebow’s high school, college and professional football careers. Written during a period of Tebow mania, this book has few surprises, but fills in the details about the famous quarterback’s early life and explains his personal religious beliefs and message. Not all professional athletes want to be viewed as role models, but they are in the public eye anyway and stories about the bad role models make headlines regularly. Tim Tebow wants to be out there in a positive way. He wants to be noticed and, besides sending his religious message, his biggest goal, a kid himself, is to reach out to kids. If you can take the rest of it, then he’s your man.


Check out a comprehensive Amazon list of football books here.

Click here for an Amazon list of children’s football books.

What football books can you add to this list?

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What’s That Book? Football for a Buck by Jeff Pearlman

TitleFootball for a Buck

Author:  Jeff Pearlman

Genre: Nonfiction

Rating:

What’s it about?
This book highlights the rise and fall of the United States Football League (USFL), which lasted for three seasons in the 1980s. It dives into the incredible highs that the league experienced, such as enticing the talents of Steve Young, Jim Kelly and Reggie White to play in the league. But it also goes into detail on the laundry list of reasons why the league failed so quickly, as well as its ties to current US President, Donald Trump, who was one of the league’s team owners.

How did you hear about it?
I follow Pearlman on Twitter, so I was pulled in as he shared info about the book during the reporting process. I have also read two of his previous books, Gunslinger and Sweetness, which are biographies on Brett Favre and Walter Payton, respectively.

Closing comments:
It is impossible to read this book and not draw parallels between Trump’s actions now and how he acted in the USFL, despite that being over 30 years ago. Whether you support him or not, Trump was a key contributor to the eventual downfall of the league. Backed by a series of bold lies, he convinced the other league owners that a move from the spring to the fall to compete directly with the NFL was not only necessary, but it would allow the USFL to win a lawsuit against them for creating a monopoly on professional football. Instead of the slow, steady progress that the league initially aimed for, the immediately-shoot-for-the-moon path instead catapulted the USFL directly into the sun as it faded away into football history.

This book was especially interesting to read after the Alliance of American Football (AAF) failed this past spring as it also attempted to provide football for fans during the NFL offseason. That league was shut down after half a year due to some of the same pitfalls as the USFL, but after reading more about both leagues, it was clear the USFL had a lot of things right that the AAF didn’t. The USFL had some of the best football players in the world, while the AAF primarily had NFL rejects. And with Vince McMahon’s reboot of the XFL planned for next year, it’ll be curious to see if one of the other biggest egos in sports entertainment will take the history of these failed leagues and turn his venture into a success.

In closing, the reporting and storytelling by Pearlman are top notch as usual. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in pro football history.

Contributor:  Austin Vitelli is an associate editor for a medical publishing company and graduated from Lehigh University with a degree in journalism. He’s been a football fan his whole life, cheering for his beloved Philadelphia Eagles. His blog, which mostly focuses on the Eagles, can be viewed at http://austinvitelli.com/thephillysportsreport/.


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Email Book Club Mom at bvitelli2009@gmail.com for information.

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