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The Last Headbangers: NFL Football in the Rowdy, Reckless '70s--The Era that Created Modern Sports Hardcover – September 3, 2012


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The Last Headbangers: NFL Football in the Rowdy, Reckless '70s--The Era that Created Modern Sports + Undefeated: Inside the 1972 Miami Dolphins' Perfect Season
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition edition (September 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393080161
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393080162
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #419,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A head-slap of a book. Whap, yeah, that’s how it was.” (Roy Blount, Jr.)

“Were we crazy? No—we loved the game, and this book shows why. Cook captures '70s football in all its glory.” (Roger Staubach, Hall of Fame quarterback, MVP of Super Bowl VI)

About the Author

Kevin Cook, the award-winning author of Titanic Thompson and Tommy’s Honor, has written for the New York Times, the Daily News, GQ, Men’s Journal, Vogue, and many other publications, and has appeared on CNN and Fox TV. He lives in New York City.

More About the Author

Cook is the author of six books including the upcoming Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America and the award-winning Tommy's Honor. http://www.tommyshonor.com/

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Buy the book and read it, you will be unable to put the book down.
Tony Licata
Excellent story lines.......I thought the book an excellent job of most specifically focusing on the Raiders and Steelers of the 70's.
Shawn L Craft
I found this to be a well researched book that brought the era to life.
Charles J. Massucci

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By S. Conner on September 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Last Headbangers is an interesting and entertaining book that is not what its title claims it to be. It traces NFL history in the 1970's from Franco Harris's "Immaculate Reception" in December 1972 through Dwight Clark's "The Catch" in January 1982, the book looks at how the NFL began the transition to the financial and sporting juggernaut it is today. It does so through the story of the Oakland Raiders and the Pittsburgh Steelers, bitter rivals and arguably the two dominant teams of the era. Other teams pop up only in terms of things that happen to the Raiders or the Steelers. It may be Super Bowl/playoff opponents (Miami, Dallas, Minnesota primarily)

"Headbangers" does offer a clear explanation of the rules changes that went into effect to open the game up, and explains how bringing in the hash marks, moving the goal posts, and an array of rules that protected quarterbacks and freed wide receivers led to a more open game and ultimately to the rise of the West Coast Offense.

Using the Steelers and the Raiders changes in tactics and rules are traced and examined. Raider lore plays into the story with "the Sea of Hands", the "Holy Roller", and "the Ghost to the Post". The internal challenges faced in Pittsburgh of playing for Chuck Noll and the incredible 1974 draft that set up the Steelers for the balance of the decade.

Description of football games is excellent, especially if there is a tactical flare or special point involved-especially if it involves the Steelers or the Raiders. The analysis of how the rules changed defensive tactics (like the move to the Cover 2 defense) is nicely done.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Brian Maitland on October 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Don't get me wrong, there are some nice nuggets in here (who knew Minnesota Vikings' coach Bud Grant won an NBA championship with the Minneapolis Lakers in 1950 or that Chicago Bears player/owner [say what?] George Halas held the record for longest runback of a fumble for 49 seasons?) and the book is a breezy easy read. The problem I had with this book is many fold. There was way too much emphasis on dissecting the actual Super Bowl games (often the most boring games of the NFL season especially in the '70s), way too much focus on the Pittsburgh Steelers (I get it, they won four Super Bowls during this era, but there were chapters after chapters on the buildup of that team) and, lastly, the book tacks on stuff on the early '80s emergence of the Bill Walsh era San Francisco 49ers. The latter is all well and good but look at the subtitle of this book. Why leave out so much great grist from the '70s for an intro on the Niners of the '80s?

With the author focusing so much attention on the Steelers vs. Raiders playoff rivalry he completely left out, or brushed over, such fanastic '70s topics as:
--the Over The Hill Gang Washington "Ramskins" under coach George Allen
--the merger and radical divisional realignment in 1970
--the Rams' Jack Youngblood playing on a broken leg in the Super Bowl
--the fall of the Green Bay Packers post-Lombardi and Lombardi's move to the Redskins
--O.J. Simpson 2,003-yard rushing season and the Electric Company
--the local TV blackout rules and the term no-shows coming into vogue
--introduction of sudden-death overtime in regular season games
--early Air Coryell in St.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By cfw on September 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who has an NFL team or player they like to watch -- or one they like to hiss -- will get a kick out of Kevin Cook's entertaining look back at one of the sport's most interesting decades. The players were underpaid and virtually unprotected, rules were there to cheat on, rivalries were intense and personal. And the cast of characters was unique and colorful, and ranged from the gentleman to the maverick to the thug. Cook does a great job of putting together the personalities and the politics with the action on the field, retelling some of the legendary plays of that era (the "Immaculate Reception", for one) with comments from the players involved. You can be behind the scenes at Monday Night Football, and read of the jokes and hijinks in the locker rooms. You also hear the bad side: the brutality and sex and stupidity, and the terrible toll the game extracts from its players even today. If you're looking for a good read or a good gift, this could fill the bill.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By LD TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This was a fun read. For those who caught the 1970s fever of Monday Night Football, Super Bowl, team rivalries, and wild plays you will relive them in this book. Cook reviews the ongoing news of the day during the emergence of the AFL-NFL heyday. What the players and coaches were like as people (including the drug/steroid use, parties, motivations) is revealed that we as fans did not hear about. You'll get a chuckle when you read about the early years of Monday Night Football shenanigans in the booth with Howard Cosell. The truth about the "Immaculate Reception" is finally revealed. You will find out about the "cheating" that players and teams engaged in as well as the blown calls by the refs.

If this was before your time, this will reveal a whole other world of pro sports. You will find out what it was like when players spent all or most of their careers on the same team. And they played hurt in the all out war on the field while working a second job to support their families.
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