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New Thinking Man's Guide to Professional Football Paperback – February, 1987

5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Distribution Services; New edition edition (February 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671602764
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671602765
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #921,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Roo on February 1, 2014
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For those intellectual fans of the game, especially those interested in NFL history, this book is incredible. Out of print, due to its 1983 date, its hard to find. I was lucky to find a relatively cheap copy, as I see its 100+$ today. Its the second edition, the first was in the 60's. While the game was somewhat simpler than, Zimmerman breaks down positions, some strategy, and fills the chapters with anecdotes from his years of coverage. Zimmerman diagrammed, followed the strategy, was a cross between a sort of Bill Barnwell at Grantland today and Peter King of SI inherited his role of main SI NFL writer. He breaks down much of the game in ways still relevant, passing had opened up in 1978 due to the rule changes, and Zimmerman reminds readers that passing was already much more rewarding a strategy than rulnning, even at this early date. Running was effective at making passing more likely to succeed.
If you are the kind of fan who needs this book, and is thinking of shelling out 100$; you probably read or should read Smartfootball, the book and the website, Footballoutsiders, Mike Tanier, Barnwell and Mays at Grantland, Benoit at MMQB, Matt bowen, Cian fahey, the above average intellectual fan (or maybe coach) who has deep curiosity about the game within the game.
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This is the bible of professional football writing. There is no second place. Spilling over with terrific stories and quotes and insight and....just buy it, you won't be disappointed. You'll be thrilled.
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Anyone who has ever read this book (and there surely aren't many) understands that everything in modern football that is called "new" has precedents and predecessors dating back decades, even centuries in some cases. And to anyone who hasn't read it, if you consider yourself a fan of the game then it is the single most important book you will ever read.

I was fortunate enough to have been gifted a hardcover second edition (1984) of this book as a child. Although I didn't fully understand everything I was reading until some years later, nevertheless I was left with the distinct impression that this book was the closest thing to a "football Bible" that ever existed. And it wasn't until the mid-2000s that I finally recognized the true genius of Paul Zimmerman and his unique, perhaps unparalleled connection to the game.

Part of what makes American football so amazing is that its trends come and go in waves and stages. When this book was written, the single back / double-tight-end set and 3-4 defense had only recently come into vogue for the first time, and Zimmerman was in the unique position to be able to recount his past experiences with the game (dating back to the 1950s) and how they compared and contrasted with the then-modern iteration of the sport. The result was fascinating -- a deep, truly personal look at the history and future of every position on the field.

And therein lies the most remarkable feature of this book, written 30 years ago: I can read it and still draw parallels and connections to the 21st-century sport I watch now. Zimmerman's chapter on scouting and the transition from college to pro describes an environment that is remarkably similar to what most young recruits encounter today.
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Although newer websites have replaced much of the statistical and analytical thinking of this reference, this is an invaluable resource for analyses of older eras of professional football, as well as a useful primer for where modern analyses got started.
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