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The Best Game Ever: Giants vs. Colts, 1958, and the Birth of the Modern NFL Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 5, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
The match up featured the greatest concentration of football talent for one game as 17 future Hall of Famers were involved. It pitted a team of self-made men and the league's best offense (Colts) versus a team of glamour boys and the best defense (Giants).
Author Mark Bowden tells the story of the 1958 championship game through a handful of players and coaches such as Raymond Berry, Weeb Ewbank, Sam Huff, Tom Landry (Giants' defensive coordinator) and Vince Lombardi (Giants' offensive coordinator). Bowden's exceptional study of Berry is the cornerstone of the book.
Bowden recounts how Johnny Unitas and Berry teamed up to take the Colts 86 yards in two minutes to tie the game. And, how Unitas engineered the 13-play drive in overtime to secure the thrilling victory. Unitas' greatness and leadership in the game elevated him to the highest echelon of NFL quarterbacks.
Interestingly, many of the players didn't realize that the game would continue into sudden death overtime after it was tied in regulation.
As a writer, Bowden makes the reader feel like he's in the middle of the game. He makes you wish you had been able to witness this great game. You envy those who did. NFL Commissioner Bert Bell called the Colts-Giants sudden death overtime game, "The greatest day in the history of professional football."
While I thoroughly enjoyed the book, it's definitely a lightweight treatment of the subject. The book is 239, easy-to-read pages. When I finished the book, I wanted to read more about the game and its impact. I suspect many other readers will feel the same way.
That covers a great many games.
The game in question fell in December, 1958, as the New York Giants hosted the Baltimore Colts for the NFL Championship in Yankee Stadium. That means it's been 50-plus years since it was played, and cries out for a book.
Mark Bowden, the author of "Black Hawk Down," heard that cry. His reply comes in the form of "The Best Game Ever," a quick look at that historic contest.
The history is a big reason why this game is remembered so well even a half-century later. It's still the only NFL championship game (now called the Super Bowl, of course) to go into overtime. Johnny Unitas led the Colts down the field twice, once for a tying field goal in the dying seconds of regulation time and once for a game-winning touchdown.
Bowden takes on this project about the way you'd expect him to do so. After a quick introduction, he works his way through some key personalities and moments leading up to the game itself.
The author talked to many of the participants who were still alive to talk about it. Obviously Raymond Berry was a very valuable source of information, as he gives plenty of insights into his unique approach (the most prepared player in the league) and the game itself.
Bowden grew up as a Colts' fan, and it's easy to see that he loved writing this book. After all, he got to talk to some of the Baltimore players from that era. There are some good stories here. It's funny to hear that many of the players didn't know that a championship game could go into overtime, expecting a split title to be awarded once it was knotted at 17-17 after 60 minutes.
Still, this book feels on the slight side.Read more ›
The beauty of Bowden's treatment of the game - of course debatable as to its superlative (American publishing marketing working overtime) - is that it allows the football purist to read all the way through cheering for neither side in particular, but for the game and the sport itself. I wasn't alive when the game was played, and didn't have a rooting interest when I picked up the book. I just wanted a good read on a favored topic, and got just that.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was 12 and at my grandmother's house on south Elizabeth St. in Chicago and she was in the kitchen. I watched the game in the dead of winter and will never forget it. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Mr.
I loved this book. Growing up in Baltimore but fairly young at the time, I heard alot of talk about this game, these teams and those incredible players. Read morePublished 19 months ago by cinderbean
I bought this for my dad for Christmas and he loved it! Great gift for colts fans. Very nice book.Published on May 12, 2014 by Amanda S.
To me, you don't have the modern NFL without this game. I really liked how Bowden set the context of the game with the histories of each team and the players. Read morePublished on March 19, 2014 by btwhite22