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More than a Game: The Glorious Present and Uncertain Future of the NFL Hardcover – September 8, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Billick, the former longtime coach of the Baltimore Ravens, presents what at first appears to be a gloomy treatise on the future of the NFL. He argues that the organization's unresolved collective-bargaining agreement is threatening to alter pro football as we know it in 2011, and Billick sees the time before then as a pitched battle for the soul of football. Thankfully, the book mostly eschews this potentially preachy stance, as Billick details the workings of professional football, both on and off the field. Among the more interesting tidbits: free agency is a crapshoot for teams because football is much more interdependent than other sports, while despite all of the analysis and preparation for the NFL draft, many teams essentially go with their gut feelings when choosing players. Billick also examines the difficulties of being a head coach, who has to find a rhythm that fits his personality. He even breaks down the increasing complexity of offensive and defensive schemes in the NFL. Billick, with the help of numerous interviews and humorous anecdotes, emerges as an authoritative, affable guide. The book may lack focus (is it investigative, a treatise on the future of football or a collection of Billick's professional memories?), but the Super Bowl–winning coach's keen observations and informed opinions will engage any football fan. (Sept.)
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"Having played in the NFL, I think More Than a Game does a great job helping fans of pro football gain a deeper understanding of how coaches and general managers make their key decisions, especially in respect to drafting and keeping players. The book also addresses the critical issues facing the NFL's future, such as the league's salary cap agreement with the players. I know fans will really enjoy this book because I enjoyed it myself." -- Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman
"A clear-eyed appreciation and critique of the game and business of football, combining the perspectives of a Super Bowl-winning coach and a first-rate journalist." -- Bob Costas
"Like Brian Billick, I've experienced the ultimate highs and lows of being a head coach in the NFL, so I read More Than a Game with great personal interest. Brian writes with fascinating detail about a wide range of topics facing the sport. There's eye-opening perspective on how the game has evolved, and how he sees it changing in the future. If you care about pro football, this is a tremendous book and a pleasure to read -- I felt like I was in the room and on the field with him in each chapter." -- Super Bowl-winning head coach Jon Gruden
"It seems like everyone these days tries to give fans an inside look into professional football. But in More Than a Game -- through the eyes of a championship coach with a sense of the world, and a journalist who understands the history of pro football better than anyone -- we get closer than ever to the practice fields, the meeting rooms, the executive offices, and the stadiums where games are won and lost." -- Joe Posnanski, Sports Illustrated --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Billick lost his job with the Ravens a while back -- such is the nature of football -- but he's still smart. That means "More Than a Game" is definitely worth reading.
Billick wanted to take a look at the National Football League from the outside looking in for a change, since he had spent most of his adult life coaching from the inside. He had some extra time while he wasn't working as a Fox commentator on NFL games, so he spoke with several people who are involved in various aspects of the game. Then he teamed up with MacCambridge, who has written a few of my favorite books on sports ("America's Game" and "The Franchise.") So you'd expect the resulting book to be worthwhile.
Billick breaks the book down into chapters covering a specific aspect of the game -- owners, general managers, coaches, players, offense, etc. It combines into a fine look into the world of pro football today.
For example, the problems of putting together a winning team in a salary cap era are very illuminated. Billick, known as an offensive coach for his work before arriving in Baltimore, says the Ravens had to devote much of their resources toward defensive players salaries in order to keep that unit together for as long as possible. Other teams have had the reverse problem. The good teams and executives have learned to rebuild on the fly and capitalize on their draft choices.
The game itself has become amazingly complicated. As you might expect, Billick does some good work breaking down the approaches of such players as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, quarterbacks who are in a sense making things up as they go along ... after studying for a week solid on the possibilities of how certain plays will work in a given week.
The books only bogs down a bit toward the end, where there's a discussion of collective bargaining agreements and ways the game might grow its revenue base in the future. It's a tough sell to make that sort of dialogue fascinating to the average fan.
But, really, "More Than a Game" isn't written for the average fan. It's for someone who wants to know more about the sports by learning from an insider. Billick took a fine snapshot of the game in 2009, and the sooner you'll read it the more you'll learn.
Having stepped away from the game for a while Billick has written a nice little monograph on today's game. This is not a biography of Billick or the inside scoop of what it's like to be a head coach in the National Football League, although a little bit of that is in here. Instead is a topical "conversation" about issues facing the National Football League today.
Billick does a nice job explaining some of the modern day offensive and defensive schemes proliferating around the NFL and gives a nice synopsis of the progression of the now pass oriented game of professional football and how that has changed the modern game. He also briefly discusses the "wildcat" offense where the running back takes the snap directly and can either pass or throw the ball. Billick does not think the "wildcat" offense will be around too long as defenses are likely to catch up with it.
The most concerning part of the book is where Billick discusses the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), the player's union. If an agreement is not reached there could be a lock out and no football in the near future. Hopefully it will not come to that as professional football has been able to avoid the damaging play stoppage that has plagued other leagues, most notably the National Hockey League, which has yet to recover from its lost season.
There are many other tidbits of football knowledge in this book and it is well worth a read by fans of the National Football League.
Brian takes his usual, intelligent, insightful look into the NFL, both on and off the field. He talks at length about offense, defense and special teams, but he also talks about where the game is headed as an institution.
It's a very accessible book for the average to intense NFL fan.
I will admit that I've made use of Brian's theories in my own writing in A SPORTSCASTER'S GUIDE TO WATCHING FOOTBALL.A Sportscaster's Guide to Watching Football: Decoding America's Favorite Game
If you're lucky enough to get the NFL Network, you can hear Brian during the week on "Playbook."
MORE THAN A GAME will make you a better, more appreciative NFL fan.
Author: A Sportscaster's Guide to Watching Football: Decoding America's Favorite Game
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Have always found Brian Billick to be one of the most thoughtful coaches/analysts and in this book, he gives his thoughts on the state of...Read more