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Bloody Sundays: Inside the Rough-And-Tumble World of the NFL [Paperback]

Mike Freeman
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Bloody Sundays: Inside the Rough-And-Tumble World of the NFL + Every Week a Season: A Journey Inside Big-Time College Football + War Without Death: A Year of Extreme Competition in Pro Football
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: It Books; Reprint edition (Nov 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060739312
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060739317
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 16 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 555,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
When the alarm clock sounds, Cindy Gruden usually gives her husband, Jon, the turbulent and talented Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach, a shove out of bed, which serves as a sort of kick start to his 20-hour day. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Frequently insightful but sometimes wrong 18 Jan 2007
By MLA VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
I love to read the behind the NFL scenes books, You're Okay It's Just A Bruise being still my favourite but this is another worthwhile addition to the genre. The book takes a look behind the scenes by telling the stories of a range of names including Tampa coach John Gruden, NY Giants star Michael Strahan, and anonymous player who talks of the difficulty in being a homosexual player in an anti-homosexual sport.

The insight into the American psyche is fascinating, particularly in covering attitudes to sexuality, race, and gender. This isn't football as a sociological study but it's deep enough to be thought provoking. The working hours culture is also covered, and the obsession with working longer than rivals is insightful for a non-American. An American football fan looking for another insider view is bound to enjoy the book.

Unforunately for the author, the parts of the book that aren't great are the parts where he himself is forwarding a theory rather than reporting on the theories of others. Naming Coach Gruden as the ccurrent best looks a little silly in retrospect, and the fawning over Mike Vick is ridiculous. If I were to make starting praising a current player, it would no longer be Vick, it'd be new kid Vince Young. The worship of the here and now is itself worth reading, as so much of American football is based on winning now and this author seems to be part of that failure.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great behind the scenes book 19 Oct 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a very interesting read into what goes on behind the scenes in the NFL. Split into a number of categories it covers the coaching side (Grudden), the offense (Elliot Smith), Defense (Michael Strahan), the Outsider and the Team (Philadelphia) all to give you some idea how the NFL works. As a relative newcomer to this side of the game (I've watched alot but never looked into the background of it all) it's quite an eye opener. Stories of how players react with the large amount of money and bonuses floating around is very interesting and the idea of a team game soon dispels. The main area of concern within the book surrounds the outsider, namely a gay man in the NFL. First of all it is shocking that in this day and age some people hold such draconian views. Another problem is the way the author gets caught up on the subject and theorises a bit too much on it.

Also, hindsight is a wonderful thing. Remember this is written in 2003. As much as the author adores both Vick and Grudden (as a previous reviewer has mentioned), neither turned out that great. Still, if you like the sport and want to read about what goes on beyond the pitch this is a very enjoyable read.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful for British NFL fans 20 Jun 2005
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Written by obviously long standing NFL reporter, this book takes you behind the scenes of this fascinating sport.
To understand what it is that causes people to seemingly sacrifice their entire life to the tough games that American football is, this book is a "must read" who can only really get their weekly fix via Sky Sports' coverage of the NFL.
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Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This guy works for the New York Times? 25 Jan 2005
By D. Sandler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I bought this book hoping for a solid piece of investigative reporting regarding the most successful sports league in America, if not the world. Sadly, this book failed to live up to expectations. Parts of the book were interesting, but just about all of Freeman's pronouncements are now seriously out of date. Would anyone out there take John Gruden over Bill Belichick as coach of their football team? Freeman would. Does anyone consider the Browns to be in the top 5 of all teams in the league? Freeman also throws out serious pronouncements casually and then fails to explain. He does this with Wellington Mara, saying he is the best owner in the league. Only towards the very end of the book do we find out why.

The typographical and factual errors detract significantly from this work. As a reporter for the New York Times, how can he not possibly know where Fort Bragg is? Mike, I can tell you it ain't in Georgia. Care to guess again? Where were his editors and proofreaders? Additionally, parts of his introduction are repeated exactly word for word in other chapters, most notably the chapter on the gay player. All of this plus his atrocious grammar adds up to a book that exhibits some serious bush-league writing. It makes you wonder how this guy made it to such a prestigious newspaper such as the Times. This book leaves me scratching my head.

If that weren't enough, his last few chapters are absolutely horrendous. What was he thinking when he decided to compare football and baseball in such a juvenile way? And his list of changes he would make were he commissioner of the league are stunning in their profundity--he would welcome dogs into the press box but ban cats. Well, that is the mark of a truly great commissioner, let me tell you. His worst gaffe comes in his list of the greatest players by position. He tells you that Marshall Faulk is the best kick returner the league has ever seen. Only Faulk doesn't return kicks. But those kinds of trivialities do not matter to Freeman. Faulk is too good to be left out, so he had to include him somewhere. Such deft reasoning makes for a highly disappointing read.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Big League Issues, Midget League Writing 5 Oct 2004
By doomsdayer520 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The modern NFL faces many very important issues, which are rarely covered amid the fandom and sensationalism of the mainstream sports press. Here Mike Freeman digs up some much-needed dirt on the poor mental and physical health of workaholic coaches and banged-up veteran players, racial matters and discrimination in the league, and drug use and domestic violence among trouble-prone players. Freeman also offers plenty of coverage about why the NFL is so successful, from great team owners and general managers, brilliant business practices at the league level, and many mature and charitable players. These are all things that both the fans and critics of the NFL should know more about, and Freeman is providing a valuable service by giving us both the great and not-so-great of the NFL.

Unfortunately, Freeman's writing style doesn't always measure up to the challenge, resulting in a book that often seems more like a jumble of mashed-up sports-page columns rather than the strong reporting that these subjects require. Chapters and vignettes on important issues end abruptly with few authoritative conclusions. Freeman's command of language leaves something to be desired, with unfocused run-on sentences and unimaginative word choice. Early on he criticizes the modern sports press for hyper-analyzing every single move and miniscule statistic of NFL games, but then does the same thing at several spots in the book. And the end the book deteriorates into lists of Freeman's favorite players and silly reasons why he thinks football is better than baseball. These are fan-style opinions that can be found by the thousands in chat rooms and fantasy football sites, and sadly detract from the seriousness of the issues Freeman is trying to bring to light. [~doomsdayer520~]
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Freeman's Good Reporting Hurt by Irreverent Musings at End 4 Jan 2005
By SportsBook - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Freeman's reporting is solid in most of Bloody Sundays, and examines intriguing issues about the NFL that are not explored in daily media. He brings the reader inside the closed doors of coaches' and players' lives, and shows the reader that the everyday problems that dot the lives of most Americans also affect those in the NFL. The first four chapters on Jon Gruden, Emmitt Smith, Michael Strahan, and Steven Thompson are well reported and based seemingly on fact.

He holds up Gruden as the model of NFL coaching success, and trails the coach's move from Oakland to Tampa Bay. He reveres Smith as the standard by which athletes should be measured because of his durability at such a perilous position. Strahan is portrayed as a dominating defensive end who uses his intellect more than his team and the league would prefer. And Freeman's expose of the plight of gay players like Thompson (a pseudonym -the author agreed to a confidentiality deal with the player) is groundbreaking reporting that really is the backbone of the book.

There are other good parts of the book - his portrayal of Condoleeza Rice the football fan and the would-be commissioner is valuable and interesting. The explanation of the state of domestic abuse cases among players and the league's slow movement to curtail it is a credit to Freeman.

Too much of the second half of the book, however, devolves into irreverent musings and listings of his all-time favorites among categories of NFL players and franchises. There is nothing necessarily bad about this writing, but it did not gel with the solid reporting in the first half of the book. I was very impressed with the book through the first four chapters, and I was eager to read more. But I was disappointed to read through Freeman's lists of top five running backs, top five franchises (which laughably included Cleveland as a near-miss but excluded New England), and his unrealistic list of ways to improve the Bengals.

The chapters about the best players by position and the reasons why football is better than baseball are light reading. They are what they are - by that time I had realized that the book had lost its edge and I merely flipped through them. They would work fine as a Saturday sports column, but they did not belong in a book that could have enhanced the great reporting it laid out in its first half.

The book was enjoyable, and I do recommend it. The first six chapters (before Freeman begins his lists of favorites) are worthwhile and deserve reading by those who are serious fans of the NFL or those interested in what NFL life is like. The remaining chapters do not sink the book.

Freeman obviously has great experience covering the NFL, and must be a good reporter if he received access to numerous subjects he portrays in the story. I hope he follows up this book with one that is devoted entirely to a through reporting of issues that the daily NFL news media cannot explore.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not that good 2 Sep 2005
By Tijiki Mojo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
At first I started reading this book and I was impressed.

I was quickly dissenchanted.

The guy spends forever talking on each individual topic, and for each topic he talks only about one player. He spends time talking about defense, but instead of actually talking about schemes, strategies, etc., he only talks about Mike Strahan. He spends about fifty pages on Mike Strahan. He also spends sixty-five pages talking about John Gruden. Because of all this, this book is already outdated. I don't really recommend it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Football Without The Glitz 7 Feb 2004
By J. J. Kwashnak - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Now that ESPN has bowed to the pressure of the NFL and cancelled the show "Playmakers," it's left to Freeman's book to look inside the NFL and show it warts and all. A lot of attention has been given to the author's chapters on 'Steven Thompson' the pseudonym for a closeted gay football player. That chapter simply confirms what everyone already knows - that gay men are in football but they are not out nor are they likely to come out in the near future. The rest of the time Freeman draws upon his contacts and years as a reporter to analyze the people he spotlights both in an historical sense, as well as through direct access to the people and those around them. He paints pictures of people who may get the shaft in their professional lives, but who came to the game and keep going despite hardships because they truly love football. You can debate his picks for the best of all time in various positions, but you have to give Freeman the slack to express his opinions after spending time reporting on his topic, and he tries to reason out his choices. The person who does not know the NFL won't really be served by using this as an introduction, but readers familiar with the game and the players (not necessarily fanatics) will find the peek behind closed doors interesting.
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