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Mad Ducks and Bears: Football Revisited Paperback – August 1, 1993


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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Mad Ducks and Bears is the engaging companion to George Plimpton's Paper Lion. In this book, Plimpton's personal favorite, he rejoins two of his football teammates from the Detroit Lions, linemen John Gordy and Alex Karras, to talk about their careers in this sometimes brutal, always fascinating game.Mad Ducks and Bears is a more reflective, less madcap book than what we have come to expect from Plimpton - but no less truthful and searching. (5 1/2 X 8 1/4, 256 pages)

About the Author

George Plimpton is the editor of the Paris Review and writes regularly for Sports Illustrated, Esquire, and other major magazines.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: The Lyons Press; 1st edition (August 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 155821240X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558212404
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,390,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By David Von Drehle on December 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
Over 25 years after reading this for the first time, I still remember some of the more hilarious moments: Alex Karras's golf tournament, with the shrieks of wild animals echoing from the woods; Joe Schmidt's basement full of horrible recordings of the Detroit Lions singing The Battle Hymn of the Republic (not to mention the unsold vibrators); Bobby Layne sending Karras out for burgers then abandoning the frightened rookie. Interspersed among the laughs are some wonderful tutorials on the art of football where it really matters--in the trenches with the hogs. Offensive guard John Gordy and defensive tackle Alex Karras, two of the greatest ever to play the game, explain the nearly invisible game of blocking and tackling. This is a sort of cult book for true fans of football and great writing. Come join our congregation!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A reader on September 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is excellent for an authentic glimpse into the 1960s NFL. It is also very funny and extremely well written. Alex Karras is an eccentric character who provides a barrel of laughter with his off the wall sense of humor. Plimpton, unkowingly, plays the perfect straight man for karras's bizzare antics.

My only complaint about this book is that it was such an enjoyable read, I wish there were many more pages.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Howley on December 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
The 2003 edition of MDAB was released to reflect Plimpton's belief that the chapters focused upon his 1971 return to football, playing in an exhibition game for the (then-Baltimore) Colts against the Detroit Lions, departed thematically from the rest of the book.

That was certainly his prerogative as the author, but as someone who really enjoyed the original edition when it came out in 1973, I have to disagree. I felt the "epilogue" chapters comprising Plimpton's "diary" of the 1971 training camp provided a fitting coda to the rest of the book (and to 'Paper Lion,') too -- bringing Plimpton full circle, playing against his former team, and on the final play, being tackled by Alex Karras (actually, the main character of MDAB), on what turned out to be the final plays of his football career (he was cut shortly afterward).

The new edition is fine, but if you've read the original edition, it feels incomplete. If you have the chance, seek out a copy of the original.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dean Speir on January 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
One of my all-time "must-have" inside-the-game books, right up there with FOUL about Connie Hawkins, MAD DUCKS AND BEARS is nothing short of brilliant... insightful for its look beneath the gridiron turf of the NFL, and asthma-inducing hilarious when author Plympton wisely turns large chunks of the book over to narratives by John Gordy and, to a larger extent, the great Alex Karras, a very droll fellow.

In the mid-'70s, this book used to accompany my sight-impaired college roommate and myself on our annual treks around the country to visit other old chums from school, and in the evenings, I would read and re-read passages aloud to him... Gordy's thoughts while lying on the turf of Yankee Stadium with a dislocated shoulder, Karras' recollections of his first days off an Indiana farm at the University of Iowa under coaching legend Forrest Evashevski, and his adoption in training camp as a scared rookie by hard-drinking Lions' team leader Bobby Layne... as we would roar ourselves to sleep.

Delighted to see this wonderful volume reprinted! Long overdue.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A few weeks ago, after former Detroit Lion great, actor, and broadcaster Alex Karras passed away, I read his autobiography "Even Big Guys Cry", and found it to be a notch above the typical sports autobiography, both in the intelligence and depth Karras displayed, and in the humor and wit in the book. After finishing, I discovered that author George Plimpton wrote a book that starred Karras and Lion's offensive guard John Gordy ... "Mad Ducks and Bears: Football Revisited", and decided to read it. (Karras's nickname was the "Mad Duck "for the way bustled around when playing, and Gordy was nicknamed "Bear" thanks to an excessively hairy body.)

The book itself is mostly about Karras and/or Gordy, but Plimpton also speaks with other football players and coaches, sometimes to attempt to corroborate something that Karras may have told him, and others simply because of their notoriety from the era (or an earlier era). The book is laugh-out-loud funny, partly because of Plimpton's writing skills, and partly because the two men were genuinely humorous.

When reading the book, you get a genuine sense of what it was like to play professional football in the 1950's and 1960s, and what the men themselves went through. And while relatively well paid for the era, players were far from rich, and a lot of the humor of the book comes from schemes that Karras or Gordon became involved with in order to try and make money.

If you're read Karras's autobiography, then a lot of the stories here were also later used in his own book, although some stories evolved a little over time. Also, Plimpton found others remembered some of Karras's stories differently than Karras did. (Plimpton left you to decide for yourself who to believe, in those cases.)

This is a very funny, entertaining book, and is well worth a read if you're a football fan. And even if you're not. Five stars.
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