With training camp wrapping up, here's a little something to remind us all of the way things used to be in the NFL. Out now from W.W. Norton: Kevin Cook's pull-you-right-in-and-kick-you-around chronicle of the birth of the modern NFL - and the beginning of modern sports as we all know it today: The Last Headbangers.
The Last Headbangers: NFL Football in the Rowdy, Reckless '70s
by Kevin Cook
W.W. Norton | 9780393080162 | $26.95 | Sept 2012
My review from Goodreads, posted moments after I finished reading the manuscript back in April:
"The new book from the author of Titanic Thompson (seriously, just go read that one first, okay?), the unofficial but totally legit history of the wild and crazy 1970s in the NFL - the decade when football finally graduated from post-war doldrums and transcended its prior existence as second-runner-up to collegiate football to America's highly-paid, sensationalistic, kick-ass sport. Particularly recommended if you were a fan of the Steelers or the Raiders in that era - or hated those teams with a passion."
More from the book's page at Norton:
Between the Immaculate Reception in 1972 and The Catch in 1982, pro football grew up. In 1972, Steelers star Franco Harris hitchhiked to practice. NFL teams roomed in skanky motels. They played on guts, painkillers, legal steroids, fury, and camaraderie. A decade later, Joe Montana’s gleamingly efficient 49ers ushered in a new era: the corporate, scripted, multibillion-dollar NFL we watch today. Kevin Cook’s rollicking chronicle of this pivotal decade draws on interviews with legendary players—Harris, Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Ken “Snake” Stabler—to re-create their heroics and off-field carousing. He shows coaches John Madden and Bill Walsh outsmarting rivals as Monday Night Football redefined sports’ place in American life. Celebrating the game while lamenting the physical toll it took on football’s greatest generation, Cook diagrams the NFL’s transformation from second-tier sport into national obsession.
You can read an excerpt at ESPN's site.