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Paper Tiger: One Athlete's Journey to the Underbelly of Pro Football Hardcover – September 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A less-than-mediocre football player turned ESPN.com columnist refuses to give up at age 30, playing for the Battle Creek Crunch in the Great Lakes Indoor Football League, which he describes as the end of the football world. His dream turns to nightmare on the poorly managed team that sees players—who all work such day jobs as cops, teachers and fry cooks—go without getting paid and scramble to find enough jerseys, helmets and pads. Kluck loses his job as long snapper in the second game and gets very little playing time until the final game of the regular season, when he actually makes a tackle. Of this glorious culmination of the book's journey, he writes, I'm in the record books. I'm a statistic. Kluck recounts a litany of mundane details such as what the players do to kill time before the games start, what they get to eat at gas station stops or what radio stations he listens to on the way to practice. He refers to the movie Slapshot so many times he even parenthetically asks how many times he can get away with quoting it. And as if trying to fill space within the narrative, he includes the full text of e-mails he wrote and received while working on the book. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Inside Flap

Former college football player Ted Kluck had a dream: to return to the playing field and try to stir the dying embers of his athletic prowess. So he got an idea to try to sign on with a professional team, the Battle Creek Crunch of the Great Lakes Indoor Football League.

 

Kluck, who writes regularly for ESPN.com, has a wry eye for detail, and in Paper Tiger his colorful observations of the characters who populate the lower rungs of professional football are drenched in sweat. Here are the eccentrics, the cynics, the football addicts who don't know when to stop. Twelve-hour bus rides, alcohol-fueled antics, substandard practice facilities, and meager paydays are only the tip of the iceberg. For the first time, Kluck shares his account of this grueling lifestyle in a way that will resound with sports fans and readers everywhere.

 

Part Paper Lion and part Bull Durham, the book will tell the stories of the dreamers and the world-class athletes with promise who never quite made the next step. With Kluck’s humorous and poignant prose, Paper Tiger is destined to become a sports classic.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Lyons Press (September 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599210436
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599210438
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,689,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Ted's work has appeared in ESPN the Magazine, Sports Spectrum Magazine, and ESPN.com Page 2.

His first book, Facing Tyson: 15 Fighters, 15 Stories, was published by the Lyons Press in October 2006, and published internationally by Mainstream Publishing in 2007. His next two books, Paper Tiger: One Athlete's Journey to the Underbelly of Pro Football and Game Time: Inside College Football released in September, 2007. Why We're Not Emergent (by Two Guys Who Should Be) was released by Moody Press in 2008 and won a Christianity Today award for Book of the Year in the church/pastoral leadership category. The follow up title, Why We Love the Church, won the same award in 2009.

Ted's collection of sports essays, entitled The Reason for Sports, released in 2009 (Moody) and his book on international adoption, called Hello I Love You, drops in 2010 (Moody).

In 2010 Ted founded Gut Check Press, a small publishing house, where he holds the title Co-Founder and Secretary of the Interior. The company released its first title, Kinda Christianity, in 2010. Read more at www.gutcheckpress.com.

Ted has played professional indoor football, coached high school football, trained as a professional wrestler, served as a missionary and taught writing courses at the college level. He lives in Grand Ledge, MI with his wife Kristin and son's Tristan and Maxim. He's a frequent speaker at conferences and events. Book Ted at www.tedkluck.com.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Randy Snow on August 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Ted Kluck's book, "Paper Tiger," is a well written account of the 2006 Battle Creek Crunch indoor football team. In the sometimes chaotic world of minor league sports, no team in the first year Great Lakes Indoor Football League endured more problems than the Crunch.

But through all of the adversity, the players somehow managed to stick together and finish the season. Even though the season was rapidly deteriorating before their eyes, the team managed to earn a playoff spot in spite of an absentee owner and no paychecks.

"Paper Tiger" is filled with humorous stories of the colorful coaches and players on the team that season. The roster was a mix of former NFL and Arena Football League players, as well as guys who simply wanted to recapture their high school or college football playing days.

Kluck played defense for the Crunch and was a long snapper on the team as well. But at the age of 30, he struggled to comptete against larger, younger and faster players. In one way, however, he was just like every other player on the team. He, too, simply wanted a chance to play football, one more time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dean Jackson on September 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Ted Kluck gets inside the game of indoor football and we don't ever want to get out. Anyone who's been associated with the game and even those who aren't will appreciate this book. Indoor football is a distinctly American invention and Ted captures it all. The road trips, the fans, the pagentry - and there is that. Make sure you get this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Zach on March 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
PW's review, while not negative, spills precious ink across finite page complaining about Ted Kluck's inclusion of seemingly "mundane" details. What music was playing, what the players are doing to kill time, what they eat at gas station stops, etc. Apparently this is all unnecessary, boring information. WHAT???

Yeah, good call PW. Why set the mood? Why develop characters? Why make the reader feel like they're experiencing this WITH the author?

As a matter of fact, that's exactly what makes this book so damn great. I could never endure a single practice with the animals fleshed out in this book, but I feel like I lived the whole thing. What Bill Bryson does for small town America and the Appalachian Trail, Ted Kluck does for the world of regional professional football. And along the way, we share in Kluck's childhood dreams of being a bigtime pro athlete, which are fading, but not quite gone. I think we can all relate.

Great read. 5*/5*
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jon Johnston on February 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
If you wonder why some people can never give up playing football (or chasing windmills?), Kluck's "Paper Tiger" provides plenty of insight. His writing is honest - whether it's about dealing with himself, his teammates, or his wife and family.

The story is excellent - contains a lot of the craziness that Bruce Feldman's "Meat Market" so good - I don't think you can miss with this one.
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