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Gridiron Gauntlet: The Story of the Men Who Integrated Pro Football, In Their Own Words Hardcover – October 16, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Gridiron Gauntlet is a captivating reprise of lived history, an engaging, highly informative sojourn through the post-World War II reintegration of professional football as experienced and recalled by the sport's "second wave" of black players, the men whose sometimes ignored, mostly forgotten contributions and sacrifices were critical to the evolution of the game we see today. (Harry Edwards, professor emeritus, University of California, Berkeley)

...[H]umorous, disturbing, angry, sad, and uplifting. An involving and essential read for anyone interested in football. (Library Journal)

Vivid and fresh, this is a terrific addition to the secret history of sports we all need to know if we want to understand today's players and games. (Robert Lipsyte, American sports journalist, ESPN Ombudsman, and author of An Accidental Sportswriter)

An excellent and worthy contribution to sports history shelves, Gridiron Gauntlet is highly recommended. (Midwest Book Review)

Gridiron Gauntlet is a worthy addition to the scholarship on race in American sport. Because every word comes from the participants, the work, while serious, has the informality of a living room conversation with an accomplished and gregarious family member. (Bay State Banner, (Boston))

…[A] great addition to any sports lover's bookshelf and a valuable contribution to the civil rights history of pro football. (Jane LaTour Public Employee Press)

Through firsthand accounts of the men who shaped their times, Gridiron Gauntlet provides fresh insight into an important era of sports history. An era that despite being too often overlooked, proved crucial to the making of the modern NFL. (Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era)

...a book anyone who truly claims to be a fan of the early NFL needs to read.... Trust me, you won't want to put it down.

Anyone interested in history and sports should read this book. While diversity is a common sight on fields nowadays, it's important to know and understand how that came to be. (Thebookjournal.Com)

...Piascik presents a living history, taking an engaging, informative sojourn through a critical, sometimes-forgotten, and often-ignored part of the evolution of today's NFL. Well written and thoroughly researched, this book will serve anyone interested in sports studies, sports history, and sociology. Recommended. (CHOICE)

Thanks to Gridiron Gauntlet, the stories of these 12 individuals have been preserved as a reminder that things were not always as they are today. There was racism, exclusion and prejudice in the 40's and 50's, but these men paved the way for future generations of football players, and they should not be forgotten. (WorldofFootball.com)

About the Author

Andy Piascik is an award-winning author whose articles have appeared in Z Magazine, The Indypendent, Jump Cut, and many other publications. For his book The Best Show in Football: The 1946-1955 Cleveland Browns, Pro Football's Greatest Dynasty (also published by Taylor Trade Publishing), he received the Professional Football Researchers Association's Nelson Ross Award. He is a member of the National Writers Union.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Taylor Trade Publishing; 1 edition (October 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589794427
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589794429
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,483,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Definitely an interesting read and I love how it's all done by interviews, so it's first-person and through the eyes of the participants themselves. It goes beyond football and into life itself and I'm impressed by the overall articulateness of these men as well as by their maturity and perspectives.

However--and this is a big however--there needed to be photographs to link the players with a face. If the idea is to personify the struggles of those who integrated pro football, placing a few photos, not connected with names, on the cover and none near the chapter headings or anywhere else in the text doesn't do it.
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Format: Hardcover
This oral history book of some of the early players who re-integrated the National Football League is well worth the read. The interview subjects put you right into the huddle and on the sidelines. If you enjoy reading about professional football or early sports history then this is a book for you. Highly recommended. Chris W.
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Format: Paperback
Gridiron Gauntlet tells the story of 12 men who reintegrated pro football beginning in 1946. Although the book's subtitle is "The story of the men who integrated pro football" it is more accurate to say reintegrated because 13 blacks played pro football from 1920 to 1933. From 1934 to 1945, however, no blacks played pro football. Of course, there was nothing written to prohibit them from playing. The weak excuse was that there were no blacks good enough to play (wink, wink).

Author Andy Piascik points out that the 12 players featured were contemporaries of Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Monte Irvin and Larry Doby, yet their stories are not nearly as well known. Their stories as told in the book also aren't as powerful as those of the baseball players cited above. They undoubtedly endured many of the same prejudices and shameful actions, but it doesn't come through as strongly. Perhaps it's because most of the players were in their 70s or 80s when interviewed for the book and these memories and bitterness had faded somewhat.

Each chapter is narrated by the player. Piascik writes in the introduction that the content of each chapter is entirely dependent on the individual. Each player talks about a wide array of topics. Some speak at great length about football while others devote more time to discussing their other careers.

Piascik says, "Their football careers cannot be adequately understood without an understanding of the other parts of their lives." While that may be true, the major flaw of the book is that it lacks focus. Rather than just turning on the tape recorder and letting it run, the reader would have been better served if Piascik had guided and edited the interviews.
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Format: Paperback
I have always loved sports, baseball, football etc..... But what I have grown too see is that when books come around that explain the history behind what makes up todays sports, I need to read them. In this book I learned not only about young football players paving the way for the future of the NFL, I learned what it means to sacrafice, to never give in, to look for another means--because with these men I heard great sroties about their parents, about their siblings, their teachers, what went on at big time colleges--the thought process behind why schools said yes and why schools said NO. I enjoyed this book because just like Jackie Robinson layed the foundation in baseball, so many young men layed the foundation in football. It is easy too forget why we have what we have today in the NFL, but this book will take you back too a time were the real spit and grind were taking place so that there may be a future--read this book if you are football fan, read this book if you want an understanding of why the NFL is and was. Read this book if you want too understand what it means too never give in and keep driving too be your best and too have a dream, and making that dream come alive.
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