With one Super Bowl win in to their name, the Ravens were still a fairly new franchise when Feinstein choose to cover their season.
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It was a sound choice, as the franchise was going through a transformative period, with lots of growing pains. Art Modell, the longtime owner of the Browns-Ravens, as well as his son David spent their first season simply as "guests" of the team in The new owner was a young, billionaire entrepreneur named Steve Bisciotti, and the story of how he became owner of the Ravens is indeed an interesting one.
John Feinstein did an excellent job going through all of the details of the complicated transfer of ownership, as well as the politics involved. From the beginning, like any good author, Feinstein sets up the major characters of the story so that they become locked in your psyche as the story progresses. By the time the book reaches the half-way mark, you really KNOW these people, and can even predict their actions. Owner Steve Bisciotti, head coach Brian Billick, general manager Ozzie Newsome, controversial offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, special teams Coordinator Gary Zauner, controversial star middle linebacker Ray Lewis, the legendary Deion Sanders as star nickelback, defensive back Corey Fuller, offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, young quarterback Kyle Baller, cornerback Chris McAlister, and placekicker Matt Stover all feel like friends by the end of the book, as the reader is allowed the privilege to peek inside their lives, and journey along with them through the many difficult trials and tribulations an NFL team must face throughout a single season.
The owners, the coaches, the players all have one goal in mind: the Super Bowl. Each year, every year, that's what the Ravens, and every other team in the NFL strives for. Of course, things are never as simple as they seem. Assistant coaches want to be coaches, coaches want to be coordinators, coordinators want to be head coaches, head coaches want to win, or perhaps become General Managers.
Players want to win, but they also want contracts, and security, and money, and good health. An NFL team is only as strong as its injury list will allow. Of all sports played, football is probably the worst when it comes to players getting injured on the field. Injury is part of the sport every season, yet it still hits a team hard when their starting players get on the injured list for weeks at a time. It was sad to see the journey end as I finished the book today.
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I'm going to miss my friends. Jun 04, Steve rated it liked it. A fascinating insight into the NFL. It covers a year in the life of the Baltimore Ravens franchise and seems to have good access. It gives a huge amount of detail, too much sometimes, but does illuminate some of the personalities. However, it is quite repetitive and has rather bland writing style. In many ways this is a journalist's book, rather than a writer's book. Aug 24, Mallory rated it it was amazing Shelves: famous-people , nonfiction.
What a timely read this was! Ten years ago, the Baltimore Ravens were facing upheaval and change, internal and external struggles and public scrutiny. Sound familiar? Steve Bisciotti had just become the owner, taking over the team from the beloved Modells. They moved to their Owings Mills complex mid-season. Jamal Lewis was looking at prison time on drug charges. Key players were lost to injury, either for the season or significant periods of time.
In the NFL, it seems, the characters change, bu What a timely read this was! In the NFL, it seems, the characters change, but the storylines stay the same. I remembered almost all of the players mentioned from this squad, as well as from other teams they played during the season. Perfect example was the Matt Cavanaugh saga that surrounded this particular season.
Those not getting cut feel for those who are. Some are losing friends or seeing players they like and respect lose their jobs. All of them understand that someday they may be the ones being asked for their playbooks. Jun 02, Simon rated it liked it. I wonder whether Premier League footballers are all Tories these days?
What if you only ever read about sport and never watched it, ever? Would that be OK? Aug 17, Samantha rated it liked it. This is an average football book. John Feinstein really dropped the ball compared to his basketball and golf books. This book was stated to be about the next man up in football when injuries occur. However, he makes it more about each game and the personalities. This book is about the Baltimore Ravens.
I'm not a Baltimore Ravens fan at all so I was more interested in what most NFL teams do during the week or summer and how decisions are made. If you have ever read a John Feinstein book then you This is an average football book.
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If you have ever read a John Feinstein book then you know you are going to get brief one to two page biographies of each player or coach or whoever. Those don't bother me as much as it did some other readers. The last four decades have seen a tug of war over just how much is permissible, the celebration rules relaxing or tightening seemingly on the whim of some suit at Park Avenue. Johnson is the founding father of the movement.
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What came next transformed American sports. Just as significantly, he began looking for—and finding—money where those before him had never thought to look. Beginning as a pennant vendor in , Wilford Jones honed his persona and his fandom, turning out for Cowboys games and cavorting and whistling in his signature chaps and blue vest, brandishing a toy six-shooter. Though he was unpaid, the Cowboys gave him his own parking space and granted him unlimited access at home games. Colin Kaepernick made his initial mark in the NFL by taking the 49ers to the Super Bowl in his second season, as a scrambling, unpredictable fill-in for Alex Smith.
His biggest mark, of course, came from what he did on the sideline. A baseball and football star at Nevada, Kaepernick was selected in the second round of the draft by the Niners. He played sparingly until Smith suffered a concussion in a Week 10 game in The following season Kaepernick, now the undisputed starter, led the Niners to the NFC title game, coming one Richard Sherman deflection from another Super Bowl appearance. In the preseason, following a series of shooting deaths of unarmed black men by police, Kaepernick chose to sit on the bench during the playing of the national anthem, in protest of police brutality and systemic racism in the U.
When media noticed and critics objected, Kaepernick instead knelt for the final preseason game, and continued to do so for each game over the next two years. The gesture, which spread around the league and to other sports, sparked an intense national debate over the role of athletes in politics, inspired Twitter insults from President Trump and arguably cost Kaepernick a job in the NFL. He settled a collusion lawsuit against the league for an undisclosed sum in Unique for his ability to spread both jokes and fear throughout the NFL, Chip Kelly had no parallel in professional circles when he arrived in the league in with the Eagles.
But after he was forced out of Philadelphia in a power struggle, eventually left to wither for a season on a sinking 49ers team, there was little doubt: Kelly helped change the NFL in numerous ways. Rising from obscurity in New Hampshire, Kelly took over an ascending Oregon program and turned it into a national college powerhouse. With an uptempo system that relied on short play calls and simple, repetitive instructions, the Ducks were a team no one could quite catch up to. That made executives at the next level salivate over the possibility of Kelly streamlining their own operations.
After some flirtations, Kelly finally made the leap to the pros in and reached the playoffs in his first year with Philly. The Eagles finished fourth in points, second in yards, fifth in passing touchdowns, first in rushing yards and second in rushing touchdowns. They were gaining, on average, more than five yards per carry that season despite averaging only about two minutes per drive. What happened next was an NFL story all too familiar. Many of his zone concepts were incorporated and folded into offensive schemes.
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And Kelly, who suffered from an inability to politick like the high-level used car salesmen abundant in the profession, was booted out of Philadelphia before he could finish a third season. But … not before he helped change the way teams practice, prepare, eat and play. The Maryland native has been a fixture in professional football for decades. For years Kiper owned the idea of being the expert on rising college talent—not only gauging their skills, but putting into perspective where they might land in the upcoming draft.
And these analysts are becoming far more engrained in the game. Todd McShay has been mentioned as a possible personnel executive with the Jets.
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Daniel Jeremiah, now the head draft analyst at NFL Network, has been touted for general manager roles at numerous openings. All of them have Kiper and his dogged foresight to thank. Under Lambeau's leadership, Green Bay survived several financial crises of the type that would prove fatal to the likes of Rock Island, Duluth, Dayton and other small-market teams. In , with the franchise on the verge of bankruptcy, Lambeau decided to incorporate, and sold shares of the team to the community to keep the lights on.
Green Bay is now the only publicly-owned, not-for-profit, major league professional team in the U. Twenty straight winning seasons. Imagine all the success Bill Belichick has enjoyed with the Patriots, a sports dynasty that has gone on seemingly forever or actually forever, depending on your age. Lane had a hard upbringing: As an infant he was rescued from a dumpster, abandoned by his pimp father and prostitute mother; he attended a segregated high school in Austin, Texas, and spent four years in the Army and some time working at an aircraft plant before walking into the Los Angeles Rams offices and requesting a tryout.
Lane went on to play 14 seasons of pro football, earning a reputation as an innovator at his position, popularizing bump-and-run coverage at the line of scrimmage, as well as off coverage meant to bait quarterbacks into throwing his way, like Deion Sanders many years later. A stalwart in the NFL for nearly two decades, Ray Lewis is known as much for his involvement in two deaths at the Super Bowl as he was for his immense on-field bravado and preachy rhetoric.
The two-time Super Bowl champion, time Pro Bowler and two-time Defensive Player of the Year embodied the newly christened franchise in Baltimore, which for years has been built on a ferocious and unforgiving defense. A first-round pick out of the University of Miami, Lewis anchored some of the best defensive units in modern football history.
He is listed as second all-time in career tackles and finished with 31 interceptions, 96 pass breakups, 19 forced fumbles and 20 fumble recoveries. As impressive as those numbers are, Lewis will forever be linked to the stabbing deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar in the early hours of Jan. Originally charged with murder, Lewis pled guilty to obstruction of justice and testified against two of his companions who were both found not guilty.
But even upon his induction into the Hall of Fame in , the cloud of Atlanta hung over him. Lewis continues to be one of the most polarizing figures in American sports.