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Third and a Mile: From Fritz Pollard to Michael Vick--an Oral History of the Trials, Tears and Triumphs of the Black Quarterback English Language Edition

14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1933060118
ISBN-10: 1933060115
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

William C. Rhoden has written a sports column for The New York Times since 1983. Prior to that, he worked at The Baltimore Sun and Ebony magazine. In the late'60s, he studied black quarterbacks up close as a starting defensive back on Morgan State University's football team. Rhoden lives with his wife and daughter in New York.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: ESPN; English Language edition (January 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933060115
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933060118
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #846,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Best Of All on January 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With all the hype that will now surround the Super Bowl, I urge you to take a step back from it all and read this important oral history that was compiled by author William C. Rhoden.

From Fritz Pollard to Willie Totten, Willie Thrower and Marlin Briscoe, to Leon Jackson III and Marvin Burroughs, more than 80 individuals - players & their family members, coaches and media members - are interviewed for this comprehensive exploration in the grudging acceptance of the black quarterback in professional football. Racism has had no out-of-bounds line in America's Game.

The text is built around the recollections of The Field Generals - James Harris, Marlin Briscoe, Doug Williams and Warren Moon - who started a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching and preserving the history of the black quarterback.

From a 1971 comment from Fran Tarkenton - an Al Campanis-styled look at the quarterback's "evolutionary" role on a team - to a hateful comment by Otto Graham to one outstanding collegiate quarterback, the sordid past and present is shown as it really was then and the ugly games that are still being played today.

Let us not forget the pre-draft smear campaign waged last year against Vince Young on his allegedly not testing well on an exam used by NFL teams to determine if a player has "what it takes" to lead a team at quarterback.

Particularly interesting are the lists that contain the collegiate Division I lettermen quarterbacks through 2006 and every quarterback who attempted at least eight passes in the NFL and AFL.

Like all the major sports, the NFL has been reluctant to admit its full culpability in the institutionalized practice of racism on and off the field.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Hallie Ranta on February 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Hear about the battles fought straight from the warriors themselves. Rhoden provides intellectual narrative while the players and their teammates, coaches, and peers provide insight into what was once a very dark world for the African American quarterback.

Read about what happened to Joe Gilliam after he was denied the opportunity to continue starting at QB, about Doug Williams big day in Super Bowl XXII, about the effects the trials left on these men, and the harsh words that fans and even highly regarded players had to say against the idea of an African American playing the central position on the football field.

Easy to read, hard to stomach. Next time you see Donovan McNabb or Vince Young out on the field, think about those who came before them and appreciate what they went through to give their successors an even field and a fresh set of downs.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm hardly a football connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination, however THIRD AND A MILE is written in such a manner that captivates the reader from start to finish. As a passerby of sports, just having heard the great names such as Warren Moon and Doug Williams, my interest was initially peaked to see what this book was about. Challenged by an avid sports fan to try it because I might like it, I opened the book with a bit of hesitation. Lo and behold, not only did I like THIRD AND A MILE, I can actually say I enjoyed it. This book is written in an easy, conversant manner that flows. Various sports personalities, both African-American and Caucasian and everyone in between from back in the day to the present moment, were interviewed regarding their personal perspective on the challenges faced by Black Quarterbacks in the NFL.

This book initiated by a group of football greats known as the `Field Generals'. These legendary men are Marlin Briscoe, Doug Williams, James Harris and Warren Moon. Not only does the book highlight the struggles of the Field General's rise to prestigious ranks, it also reaches through the annals of time back to when Frederick "Fritz" Pollard led the Akron Pros to a national championship in 1921. Later, he was the league's first African-American coach.

THIRD AND A MILE is an enjoyable, enlightening read because it is a historical piece that is knowledge-filled and chronicles important moments in history, and not just African-American history. Just because Doug Williams was named Super Bowl XXII's MVP in 1988, his extraordinary accomplishments on the field combined with his overall sense of poise regardless of his situation, led him to be admired and recognized as premier athlete of his time.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great read and always enjoy reading Bill Rhoden's material! I enjoyed it almost as much at 40 million dollar slave. This has more focus primarily and that is the black quarterback in college and pro. Where as the other book ranged from all different kinds of sports from boxing, to jockeying. I learned about who Sandy Stephens was and a few other great players. I thought the 1993 college year could have been mentioned with the top 3 teams had black quarterbacks who didn't go pro and the great quarterback Tommy Fraizer 3 nation championship game MVP's. Charlie Ward's Heisman and a few others could have been mentioned. It's still amazing listening to the media give their slant on the black quarterback even after all these years. I also thought more could have been written about Randal Cunningham, but overall another 5 star well written book. I loved the way it's organized also.
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