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NFL Unplugged: The Brutal, Brilliant World of Professional Football Hardcover – September 1, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

As thrilling as watching a football game on television or in person can be, you're only witness to a fraction of what's really happening. You can't hear the amazing variety of fart jokes that are standard issue in huddles or feel the searing burn of an opponent's viselike pinch on the back of your leg in a pile-up. Cameras won't show you players vomiting in agony and exhaustion on the sidelines. As for what happens in the locker room and outside the stadium, both before and during the season, you don't know the half of it—until now.

NFL Unplugged takes you behind the scenes and beyond the glitz and pageantry of professional football to discover the pros as you will never see them on TV. Author and sports broadcaster Anthony Gargano reveals the sometimes shocking, sometimes inspiring, and often hilarious truth behind such well-worn terms as playing hurt, mental toughness, and the two most dreaded words in the NFL: Training Camp.

Gargano draws on interviews with dozens of current and former players and coaches from across the NFL to give you a gut-level understanding of just what it means and takes to play pro football. You'll hear from stars such as Mark Schlereth, Bill Romanowski, Kevin Long, Kyle Turley, Jon Gruden, Hugh Douglas, Junior Seau, and Michael Strahan—all speaking frankly about the game, the pain, and the glory.

You'll also hear from lesser-known players and some who prefer to remain anonymous. Their compelling stories include one from a huge lineman who played the final eight games of one season in excruciating pain from a fractured tailbone. Unable to sit in a car, on a plane, or even in his favorite easy chair, he couldn't sleep at night, and the pregame treatments given by his trainers first intensified the pain, then numbed his glutes and slowed him down. And what does he feel now that those months of torture are over? Pride and relief that he didn't miss a single game.

From running a condition test called "the gasser" under a blistering summer sun at temperatures often over 100 degrees on the first day of training camp to playing with injuries that would leave most of us bedridden to earning vast amounts of money but often ending up broke and in debt after their all-too-brief careers, professional football players live lives that are, to say the least, outside the norm. Read NFL Unplugged and find out just how much blood, pain, and iron determination it takes to make it in America's most popular sport.

From the Back Cover

Blood, guts, and glory—the NFL you never see on TV

Behind every glittering NFL game on television is a world of happy pain for a hundred men. NFL Unplugged lets you see that world through the eyes of the pros who live and sweat in it—including firsthand accounts of more than thirty players and coaches from teams across the NFL, including Mark Schlereth, Bill Romanowski, Kevin Long, Kyle Turley, Jon Gruden, Hugh Douglas, Jon Runyan, and Michael Strahan. Here are the places the cameras and microphones don't go, places where you'll discover:

  • What really happens in huddles and pile-ups

  • How coaches' speeches can inspire players or deflate them

  • Why every NFL player dreads training camp—and loves it, too

  • What "the dark place" is and why players go there during games

  • How a player can be crippled six days a week and play football on the seventh

  • How far some players and coaches will go to win

  • Why so many players end up broke after years of huge salaries

"Very rarely—once a decade maybe—do we get the chance to peer behind the NFL curtain and experience the lives of players. Anthony Gargano has done that here, and we're lucky to get such an unvarnished view."
Peter King, senior writer, Sports Illustrated

"He may ooze of South Philly on his wildly successful radio show, but the Anthony Gargano I know also is a brilliant writer and reporter who was made to do a book that rips open the NFL and presents it on a transparent, compelling platter."
Jay Mariotti, national columnist, AOL FanHouse and daily panelist on ESPN's Around the Horn

"Gargano gives you a front-row seat to the agony and ecstasy of the NFL. From packed stadiums and glory to the icy reality of pain and injury, you won't be able to put this book down."
Mike Mayock, analyst, NFL Network


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470522836
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470522837
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #499,001 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Terry L on August 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is an entertaining and enjoyable book.

Being a Cleveland Brown's fan, I don't get to see a great deal of good football, so I figured I would read a book about the subject. The Amazon product description sums up the book's contents pretty well, so I won't repeat that in my review.

One of the things I found interesting was the section on head injuries. I did not know they were as prevalent as they are, and I did not realize the extremely serious consequences of them, including depression and even suicide. Everything in the book isn't as serious, however; there is also humor and glory and pain and all the other typical football stuff.

If I had to find a fault, I would say that in some instances I wondered if the book was describing a situation that really isn't all that standard of a situation, but then presenting it as if it was. For instance, the book speaks of situations where some players act much less than "sportsmanlike." However, the author will sometimes use examples of this behavior taken from college football. If the situation was really that prevalent, wouldn't the author have been able to find plenty of examples gleaned from the NFL? So, I wondered, is the behavior exhibited really the rule, or just the exception to the rule? Is the author describing a situation that is typical or just on the fringe?

But, it doesn't matter all that much really. This is a well-written book that I enjoyed reading. I don't recall a boring word in the entire book.

I think if you like football, you will like this book. If you are a Cleveland Browns fan, reading about football is at least as good as watching it has been for the past 10 years.

In the end, I liked the book. It is well-written, humorous, serious, entertaining, enjoyable, and informative.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Archie Mercer VINE VOICE on November 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a book for the pro football fanatic, the person who lives for Sundays in the fall, who wears their team jersey even when watching the game at home on TV. If you have NFL Sunday Ticket so that you can actually watch eight games on the same screen, if you ever listened to a game while at your daughter's wedding, then you will love this book. Unfortunately, I am not in that group. Not that I don't like football I've just lost the passion for PROFESSIONAL football. In fact, I am so over pro sports in general. Give me a college sporting event anytime, whether football, basketball, baseball, or even softball. I am so tired of the greedy owners VS the arrogant players.

But having said that, I found Anthony Gargano's "NFL Unplugged" to be an interesting read. Consider it a view into the backrooms of the sport, the places where TV cameras never go, where the "cute" sideline reporter won't venture to, and where most normal people would fear to tread. It gives the reader insight into the daily grind and extreme brutality of a violent sport. At times I think it gives too much insight especially when it comes to the violence and the mindset of some of the players whose sole purpose seems to be to injure other players. This is not a book for someone who believes in the gentleness of the human spirit. You won't find any of that here.

I also found it interesting that the book is released at the same time that the NFL has decided to outlaw the brutal helmet-to-helmet type of hits. When you read about the long-term effects that those hits have on players, including depression and at least one player's suicide, I have no argument with the decision to eliminate it. It can continue to be a violent game without being a deadly one.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J.Prather TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
NFL Unplugged was a fun read, however by the end I couldn't help but feel a bit disappointed. I'm a football fan from way back, so I have grown up loving the game and have been known to indulge in quite a bit of football hyperbole myself. I was just surprised that there was so much in this book. The writing often comes across as disjointed and a lot of stuff seems to be repeated. I wish the author would have used a wider base of players and teams instead of focusing so much on the Philadelphia Eagles. I did appreciate his emphasis on the "grunts" or no name players. I felt his section on training camp was the best part of the book. I never fully understood the whole practice squad system and since my own beloved hometown team is now taking half of its roster from the practice squad, it was nice to learn how that worked.

Other than the training camp section, I didn't really learn anything new, so if you are looking for gossip filled insights,or scandalous exposes this is not the book for you. It is at times a nice testament to the hard work some of these players put in and a timely reminder (with the strike threat looming) that these guys work on more than just Sundays. This was a good tasty snack for any football fan, just not the steak dinner I was expecting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Turtles all the Way Down™ VINE VOICE on August 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book does not recount the football you see on TV, this book recounts the football you don't see. Wall-to-wall insider accounts of gruesome on-field injuries, 100-degree training camp days, mean-spirited hazing of rookies and newcomers, and near-inhumane treatment of kickers during special teams "suicide squad" plays.

The author is Philadelphia radio sports talk host Anthony Gargano, and he definitely gathered up plenty of insider, behind-the-scenes stories from players and coaches. Plus you don't get a bunch of 1950s and 60s stories, it's all recent stuff. I've been an NFL fan since the late 70s, and remember seeing almost every guy mentioned in the book play. Crude and vulgar jokes in the huddle, players vomiting on the field, linemen peeing right there in their uniforms while the opponents across the line watch. And the extra-curricular stuff under the pile when the play ends, it's almost too much. I'm a Denver Broncos fan, and there are great, and sometimes gross stories from 2-time Broncos Super-Bowl winners guard Mark Schlereth (who also won a Super Bowl as a Redskins Hog), and linebacker Bill Romanowski, (who also won two Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers). It's nice to hear from Broncos players, but honestly, every one of the stories in here are fascinating, hair-razing eye-openers.

But some of the stuff here is not funny, it's not even disgusting ... it's downright tragic. Players suffering head injuries, injuries that can leave them brain damaged, "wet brain" they call it. Guys who just a few years after leaving the game never walk again because of injuries sustained while playing. Guys who thought they were financially set for life, only to see themselves cut and their contracts cancelled abruptly after an untimely injury.
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