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am 19. November 2008
If you love American pro football, this is a must read.

If you ever watched Frank Gifford on Monday Night Football, you know that he showed a respect and love for football that separated him from the others who shared the broadcasting booth with him. He was reticent and heart-felt in his comments. I always wondered what it would be like to hear him recount his playing days over a beer or two. Reading The Glory Game comes as close to having that experience as I can ever hope to reach.

In The Glory Game, he takes you back into professional football in the fifties when the game was considered by most fans as little different from professional wrestling. The players were long on devotion and short on pay. They also had respect for themselves and others. They played more to honor their teammates than for accolades from the fans.

Into the middle of this world, live television brought a mass audience who came, saw, and came back. One of the games that caught everyone's attention was the 1958 NFL Championship game between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants (for whom Mr. Gifford played). The book provides a virtual play-by-play recounting of that game, book ended by descriptions of the players and their origins, the owners, the coaches, and the social life of the teams on the one side and what happened to the people after the game on the other side.

Frank Gifford was no second-stringer. He was one of the most highly regarded players of his era. His two fumbles and a missed first down (which maybe was mismeasured) had a major impact on the game's score and ultimate resolution.

I didn't see the game played live, but I've seen highlights many times since then. I agree that it was the greatest game in pro football up to that point. I've seen more exciting games since then. You only have to go back to the Super Bowl in 2008 to see a game with a lot more significance and with better play throughout that also involved the New York Giants.

If you don't mind the game itself being a bit over-hyped, the rest of the book will bring much satisfaction. The main writing weakness is that a number of the stories and examples are repeated a bit too much. An editor should have cut things down a bit more.

Let's hear it for the Frank Gifford!
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