I want to be a Monday morning quarterback
November 19, 2006 11:38 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend a book to help me understand football better.

I love watching football, but I fear my knowledge of the game is extremely superficial. I think I'd like the game even more if I understood it better. I can name all the positions, and know a little about what everyone's doing on the field, but I can't predict what plays will be called or evaluate whether they were good ones. I'd like to avoid the "for dummies" type of books, and anything that patronizingly attempts to explain football to girls. If it helps, I love how Frank Deford talks about sports, but he hasn't written a football book.

I'm looking for flat-out recommendations of things you've actually read. My librarian-fu is strong, so I don't need help searching, just help choosing.
posted by donnagirl to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: sorry, sorry. I actually had it in my head to say "American football, not soccer football" before I started, but I forgot.
posted by donnagirl at 11:58 AM on November 19, 2006

Do you really need a book to learn more about football? I think the whole point is its light work on the the brain.

I'd recommend the same tried and true method that worked for me and all my friends growing up: fritter away 6-10 hours of your precious, precious youth every weekend watching the games and highlights on TV.

It works, I swear. I've never played more than semi-organized football and I can tell the difference between a 3-4 and a 4-3, I can spot a zone blitz or a cover 2. But I do regret not going outside more on Sundays as a teen. And now football bores me.. Oh well.

But for in depth analysis, I'd check out ESPN.com or 'The Sporting News'.
posted by bluejayk at 12:07 PM on November 19, 2006

Football for Dummies might be a place to start.
posted by sexymofo at 12:42 PM on November 19, 2006

Man...did I rush to post that before reading the question...
posted by sexymofo at 12:43 PM on November 19, 2006

Best answer: If you like his writing style (which is fairly similar to his speaking style), try John Madden's One Knee Equals Two Feet. If not, try The Pro Football Fan's Companion, by Ralph Hickok.
posted by box at 12:46 PM on November 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

maybe they only put that in the European boxes because they assume USians know that stuff well, but years ago I bought a football videogame for the PSX (NFL something) and it had a small manual, very clearly written, with the game's basic rules. maybe other football videogames have similar manuals
posted by matteo at 1:09 PM on November 19, 2006

Best answer: Maybe Moneyball author Michael Lewis's new book, Blind Side, would be worthwhile (I haven't read it). Its broad topic is the changes in the game in the past 20 years, with passing and protecting the QB becoming much more important.

He discussed it on Open Source with a few other guests a few weeks ago. It was a terrific show, with much discussion of the different levels at which you can appreciate football, and the intricacy of the game. He talks about watching film with Bill Parcells, and argues that if an average fan coached the Yankees, they'd still win a ton of games, whereas a non-expert coaching, say, the Patriots could easily go winless.
posted by ibmcginty at 1:35 PM on November 19, 2006

(lots of other good links at that Open Source link in my post above, btw).
posted by ibmcginty at 1:37 PM on November 19, 2006

Michael Lewis is maturing into a powerful writer, and Blind Side got me choked up a couple of times. It's also great about football. The part about Bill Walsh and the passing game, and the chapter "Death of a Lineman" contain most of what you need to know. In addition to drama, pathos, excitement, conflict, and struggle--Sports offer such rich material for writers that even non-fans love sportswriting.

A related NYT Magazine article on Parcells by Lewis.

The Open Source link is awesome, btw.
posted by Phred182 at 1:57 PM on November 19, 2006

Best answer: Football Offenses & Plays
Football Coaching Strategies are alright.

Coaching Matters for the coaching side.

Next Man Up (more about the front office, but still a great read)

websites like this might help.

What about Madden? I can't believe I am about to say this, but ya might learn a bit by firing up a playstation...

Oh, and Football for Dummies isnt that bad, it at least has some diagrams that could make things clearer.
posted by sneakyalien at 3:21 PM on November 19, 2006

dude... join a fantasy football league and follow your players. i only had casual knowledge until i joined a fantasy league and now i can say i pretty much know everything you are looking to know.
posted by fumbducker at 4:07 PM on November 19, 2006

Response by poster: 3 answers marked as "best" because: 1) The Madden book sounds like what I wanted, exactly 2) the Open Source link is indeed awesome and while the book may not be quite what I wanted (too focused on a single position) it seems like a great read and 3) the strategy minicamps were supercool.

Thanks, too, to all who suggested non-book learnin', but I am a librarian at heart and I have to read when I want to know more.
posted by donnagirl at 4:38 PM on November 19, 2006

It's a little old, but I think it does a good job of explaining a lot of formations in plain English:

Quarterbacks, Nickelbacks and Other Loose Change

It actually goes well with the Hickok book that box mentioned.
posted by Calloused_Foot at 8:26 PM on November 19, 2006

But for in depth analysis, I'd check out ESPN.com

The halftime shows and SportsCenter, sure. Their Monday Night Football coverage? Not so much.

I learned to watch football by listening to what John Madden talks about. His talent for explaining an extremely complex game to a newbie is immense. I have tremendous respect for his skills as a teacher. This year Madden and Al Michaels are broadcasting CBS' Sunday Night Football; fire up your TiVo.

I'm delighted to learn that he has a book out; I am going to buy it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:50 PM on November 19, 2006

Thanks for this post. You sound just like me - I'm a British girl who loves her Sunday night NFL, but only recently became aware that there were such things as two-point conversions and touchbacks. I still haven't figured out what a blitz is.
posted by corvine at 6:10 AM on November 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

Seriously check out wikipedia, they've got links that just keep getting better and better.
Here's one link. You really could find bunches of general information just by reading on there.

Also, ESPN did a good thing with Bob Davie a few years ago about college football and strategy. You might have to be an "Insider" but with a little digging I found on google the older links. Not sure how long these will be up: ESPN LINK
posted by bigdave at 5:44 PM on November 20, 2006

« Older Girl Poops Pants is Fake (right?)   |   How do you prevent food from burning at the bottom... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.