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I Never Played the Game Mass Market Paperback – June, 1995

3.6 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Avon Books (June 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380701596
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380701599
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 4.2 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,267,809 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
After recently watching the Howard Cosell HBO documentary, I felt compelled to read of Howard in Howard's words. I graduated from high school in 71 and my interest in sports overlaid Cosell's rise to prominence.
This book is good and bad. The bad part is that Howard writes it and therefore Howard covers only what he wants. He picks out about 5 themes and covers the story from his perspective while overlaying his importance and how these events may have led to his eventually leaving network sports. For example, the first quarter of the book is an in-depth analysis of the Raiders leaving Los Angeles and Al Davis' fight with the NFL. Howard does a good job covering this issue from an intelligent standpoint but feels compelled to consistently drop names and inform you of his importance in the story. The most compelling part of this subject, which is further covered later with the section on the Jets and Giants leaving New York, is how it plays out in today's culture of sports franchises still successfully blackmailing cities and states. At least in that perspective, Howard was correct.
In addition to NFL franchise moves, the other big story is NFL Monday Night Football. Fans today have no idea how big this was for football to be carried on the weeknight. Howard Cosell was perfect for the role. He was clearly the most hated man in America. Brass, cocky, controversial but always wanting to open his mouth and have everyone listens to him. My fondest memories of Monday Night Football is Don Meredith and his comedy. It was worth watching just to listen to Don. Frank Gifford was the ballast, the middleman compromise between Frank and Don who made everything run smoothly. Howard was like the nerd who never fit in but felt like he needed to lead the show.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Howard Cosell rose to fame talking mainly about boxing and football, and the bulk of this book is devoted to documenting his disenchantment with those sports. The lack of regulations protecting the safety of boxers seems to be behind his disenchantment with that sport. As for pro football, he recounts with considerable disgust the removal of franchises from cities that have supported them, and their transfer to more lucrative sites. The Colts went to Indianapolis (under cover of night), the Jets across the river to New Jersey (in fact he called them the "New Jersey Jets"), the Rams to Anaheim, and of course the Raiders went to Los Angeles after beating the pants off the NFL in the celebrated anti-trust case.

It is this latter case which I think is the pivotal point of Cosell's hot-and-cold relationship with pro football. He is dead-set against this type of blatant profiteering from a moral standpoint. He feels that the franchises owe something to the cities which have supported them, and he has testified before Congress in support of legislation that would require franchises to show good cause before moving.

At the same time, his former training as a lawyer required that he support the legal right of the Raiders to move. The legal issue in the case involved section 4.3 of the NFL By-Laws, which required the approval of 3/4 of the owners in the league for any franchise move. The owners could block a move without giving any reason whatsoever, and Cosell understood that this was a clear violation of the anti-trust laws. Despite this clear reality, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle stubbornly dug in his heels and fought, instead of simply modifying the rule so that it would no longer violate anti-trust standards.
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Format: Hardcover
Howard Cosell takes on a variety of topics in 1985's bitter memoir "I Never Played The Game" but only really warms to one: Himself.

The voice of televised sports through the 1960s and especially the 1970s, Cosell was an original who with his characteristic staccato pontificating and taste for the jugular made even humdrum contests into events. Unfortunately by the 1980s his act had grown tired. Cosell lost interest in sports, especially boxing, where he shone brightest. That boxing was a dangerous sport was nothing new, but suddenly in 1982 Cosell discovered it caused serious injury, and not only walked away from the sport but urged it be banned outright. If he no longer enjoyed it, why should anyone else?

All this is covered in "I Never Played The Game" at sententious, self-important length. Cosell has a point he beats into the ground, and it's not so much the danger of boxing but how the sport's luminaries were shocked at his brave stand and how congressmen like Jim Florio and Bill Richardson listened attentively to Cosell's words.

Earlier in the book, Cosell details walking away from his other key perch, the broadcast booth of "Monday Night Football" in even more self-serving terms. He claims the players are no longer interesting (huh?), that the league is corrupt (especially when their leadership doesn't listen to him), that too many broadcasters are of what Cosell likes to call "the jockocracy," whose ability to call the game is compromised by the fact they once played it, unlike him.
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