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Out of Their League Paperback – October 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In 1969, Meggyesy, a hardworking outside linebacker for the St. Louis Cardinals, abruptly quit the NFL after a successful seven-year career. A year later, he published this memoir, both a chronicle of his growing disillusionment with the sport and a searing critique of the football factory. Writing that “football is one of the most dehumanizing experiences a person can face,” he describes alumni boosters providing financial incentives to college players, players pushed to play hurt, unethical use of painkillers, institutionalized racism, and a lot of bad behavior by the players themselves. What Jim Bouton’s Ball Four (1970) was for baseball, Out of Their League is for football—though the latter is darker, angrier, and more political by far. Though NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle was savvy enough to ignore the book and avoid fanning the flames of controversy (unlike MLB’s Bowie Kuhn’s response to Ball Four), its contents were still incendiary and the book was widely read. After a soul-searching hiatus from the game, Meggyesy returned to football—not as a field player but as a players’-union organizer. Some aspects of this book will strike modern readers as dated, but its core critique is as valid as ever: players are still paying with their bodies for the fans’ viewing pleasure. --Keir Graff


"The University of Nebraska Press deserves a high-five for re-releasing this classic. . . . The book was an important milestone—innocent, then angry, but always fearless—and its sheer honesty exposes other sports books of that era as cheerleading fluff."—Rus Bradburd, Sports Literature Association
(Rus Bradburd Sports Literature Association)

"The first critical look at the dehumanizing aspects of pro football."—Mercury News
(Mercury News)

"Thirty-five years ago, a journeyman Cardinals linebacker shocked football fans with his explosive account of a league riddled with violence, drugs, and inequities against its players. . . . His book offers opinions and analogies that eerily apply to both the contemporary sports world and to America’s current political scene."—USA Today Sports Weekly
(USA Today Sports Weekly)

"Meggyesy's book, almost as much as his person, is a most moving instance of a man’s search to be honest and to find a decent alternative for this way of life."—New York Review of Books
(New York Review of Books)

"Dave Meggyesy is an articulate, eloquent spokesman for his cause."—New York Daily News
(New York Daily News)

"In a league of its own in its provocative view of the mentality and morality of American football. . . . Meggyesy rips through most of football's myths to find only a frightening and deliberate inhumanity."—Newsweek

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 255 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books (October 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803283148
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803283145
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #498,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By george motz on April 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
I just finished reading this book and found it to be quite insightful about the exploitation of professional football players. As a pro-football player, Dave Meggyesy is one of the rare players who not only finishes college but constantly questions everything that's going on around him. ... Dave is pretty articulate and has a lot of character substance. Against the backdrop of the 60s, Dave traces his intellectual and political development which is cool. This is the 6th sports autobiography that I've read for my professor at UH and it's so far my favorite. When is the last time you heard a white football player make a political statement about racism in the 60s?
The book left me wondering what Dave Meggyesy is doing today.
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Format: Hardcover
In the late 1960's and early 1970's there were two revolutions in professional sports. The first was the rapid growth in the salary levels. This was due to the growing power of the players relative to the owners as they finally were able to overcome the legal and institutionalized restrictions that kept them in a degree of servitude. The second was the stripping of the facade of the players as mighty and pure men, where they were revealed as much less than the supposed ideals. This change was largely due to the appearance of tell-all books that described what really went on in the sports.
In major league baseball, the initial book was "Ball Four" by Jim Bouton and in the National Football League (NFL) it was this book. When both first came out, the authors were severely chastised for their statements, yet subsequent revelations have all supported their claims. Shortly before he died, Mickey Mantle spoke out about how his consumption of alcohol damaged his career and his body, something Bouton wrote about.
Meggyesy talks about the tremendous racism in the NFL in the sixties, the brutality and the rampant use of performance enhancing drugs. He also describes the tremendous hypocrisy of college football, where rules violations were routine and also common knowledge. Every subsequent statement by ex-players has upheld his statements, with many arguing that it was even worse that what Meggyesy claimed.
As you read the book, you clearly see that Meggyesy is an intelligent man in an area where acting intelligently was discouraged. Football players were to be seen on the football field and heard only through the violence of their on-field actions. Expressing an intelligent political opinion was considered "action detrimental to the sport and the team." The only flaw in the discourse is that Meggyesy's political views sometimes taint his discussions about football. It would have better if he had avoided going in that direction.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By MDcares on February 9, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
wonderfully-written book about the dark side of sports. highly recommended for people who care about football and want to know the inside story. also, be sure to read --out of control - by hollywood henderson.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Gene (E. C.) Ayres on January 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
David Meggyesy is one of America's true unsung heroes. Working as a pro athlete at a time when the pay was less that of a trash hauler, with no benefits or job security, and the only guarantee a lifetime of pain and disability, Meggyesy exposed deep hypocrisy in America's hero worship at a time when the nation was at war, and the rich were getting richer at everyone else's expense, and to speak out was to be condemned as a pariah. In other words, things haven't changed one iota except for the salaries of the players, and this, ironically and significantly, is also Mr. Meggyesy's doing, in large part. As founder of Athletes Against the War back then he took on the establishment. As co-founder and Western Director of the NFL Players Association he continues to take it on to this day. A great book by a great man, for all its rough edges.
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