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Give It To Steve! (Kindle Single) [Kindle Edition]

Will Bunch

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Book Description

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION
On the morning of December 19, 1948, Philadelphia, basking in the glow of post-war optimism and shrouded in the black smoke of booming factories, awoke to gridiron dreams of a first-ever NFL championship for its long-suffering Eagles – and the first flakes of a raging blizzard. And as the 1:30 p.m. kickoff for pro football’s title tilt between the Eagles and the Chicago Cardinals drew closer and eight inches of snow piled up on the rigid turf of Shibe Park, there was a huge problem: The Eagles’ superstar running back Steve Van Buren was nowhere to be found. “Give It To Steve!” tells the remarkable story of how pro football’s “Greatest Generation” of blue-collar, combat-hardened Everymen pulled off the game they remember as “The Blizzard Bowl.” It was the last NFL championship game in leather helmets and the first on national TV – in a bygone era before the Roman-numeraled orgy of the Super Bowl, when the NFL was still man enough to play in the snow, even if the players themselves had to clear the field. The story follows the unlikely odyssey of Van Buren -- whose slashing style revolutionized pro football – from an obscure Caribbean island to a snow-obliterated end zone, helped by his unbelievable dash on old-fashioned trolleys and a subway just to get to the game. The saga concludes with a poignant epilogue – the difficult medical price that Van Buren and other vets of the leather-helmet era have paid for their years of smash-mouthed football glory.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Will Bunch is senior writer for the Philadelphia Daily News, where he writes the popular blog Attytood. He shared the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for spot news reporting in 1992 when he was at New York Newsday. His books include Jukebox America: Down Backstreets and Blue Highways in Search of the Country’s Greatest Jukebox; The Backlash: Right-Wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama; and Tear Down This Myth: The Right-Wing Distortion of the Reagan Legacy. His first Amazon Kindle Single was October 1, 2011: The Battle of the Brooklyn Bridge. His articles have also appeared in the New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, American Journalism Review, and elsewhere. He lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with his family. Follow on Twitter: @Will_Bunch .

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 161 KB
  • Print Length: 70 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0073NPOR6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #788,719 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  30 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Book for Football Fans with Great Human Interest 3 Feb. 2012
By Bryan H. Bunch - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
One of the storied professional football games in the history of the NFL was played on my birthday in 1948. I was only 12, so I missed it at the time, but I feel like I have lived through it as a result of reading "Give it to Steve." When a fan thinks of early championship games, he or she (yes, there are women fans) often goes back to the games that were played in serious, pre-global-warming weather. There was the tennis-shoe game on ice in Chicago in 1947, the first sudden-death overtime in 1958--which is where I came in as a fan--, and in 1948 in Philadelphia, the "blizzard bowl," featuring hall-of-famer Steve Van Buren. In "Give It to Steve," Will Bunch focuses to some degree on Van Buren's difficulties getting to the game and his starring role after arriving, but he also tells the stories of many of the fans who were there on that day when some of the fans could not see the field for the snow. You also get to meet Steve's family and even Van Buren himself, and learn about some of the characters who played pro ball in the early days of the NFL. It is a great read and a real bargain at $1.99.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderfully told story about the 1948 Philadelphia Eagles 3 Feb. 2012
By Jude Nagurney Camwell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
In the book "Give It to Steve" Give It To Steve! (Kindle Single) author Will Bunch brilliantly recreates the story of the 1948 championship NFL game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Chicago Cardinals, the worst weather championship game in NFL history, the first to be nationally televised, and the last to be played in leather helmets. Coach Earle "Greasy" Neale, known for his great coaching instincts and an early promoter of the shotgun formation, was against playing the championship game on that snowy December day that nearly paralyzed Philadelphia and covered the field at Shibe Park in North Philadelphia with such a heavy amount of the white stuff that it would take ground workers, team members, and even fans some very heavy labor and much time to clear the field for play. A memorable quote from one of the players, George Savitsky, summed up the feelings of most of the players on both the Eagles and the Chicago Cardinals, "Some people wanted to postpone the game, but we did whatever we could to make sure we played. The tickets were sold, the stands were filled, and our take was based on the number of people who showed up. We said, 'What the hell - let;s get it over with!'" I was fascinated with the part of the story about a modest, quirky, and shy football hero named Steve Van Buren, born and raised in early childhood on an island near balmy Honduras, who was later sent, with his brother Ebert, to live with his grandparents in Depression-era Metarie (Jefferson Parish, LA), near New Orleans. Despite hard times, he was able to play high school football. Because he had some pretty bad vision, he was unable fight in WWII as his brother did, so he went on to LSU, thanks to a full scholarship, and continued playing football. His vision may not have been too good, but his rushing made up for any other physical shortcomings. He came to be a football star during America's golden era of meritocracy as the Depression segued into the social upheaval of post-WWII. It's Steve's story and the stories of many of his teammates that really pulled me into this book. Learning their eventual destinies was both heart-warming and eye-opening. The effects of multiple concussions received while playing football have been in the Sports and Medical news headlines recently. Will's book is not only a brilliant and engaging story about football as a source of Philadelphia pride and a reflection of the changing times and attitudes of Americans, but it's also a cautionary tale about the health of players as they age after years of playing what we all know is a pretty rough sport. Best value I've seen in a long, long time at just $1.99.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sports fan's dream 3 Feb. 2012
By upstate bill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
You don't have to be an Eagles fan with attytood to love this book about
the gritty hard men who made the NFL what it is today. This is a wonderful
book. Buy it and give to to any friend who loves sports.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book on championship Sunday. Or any day of the week 5 Feb. 2012
By BaBoo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
History buff? You're covered. Pop culture buff? Yup, you're covered too. Will Bunch's Give It To Steve! (Kindle Single)is an excellent narrative of the Philadelphia Eagles first championship in 1948. Played in blizzard conditions, the Eagles ascension to the best of the NFL during its growing-pain years is 63 years old, and still is as solid a story as the day it was fought on that white gridiron. While Give it to Steve is, at its core the fable-like tale of Eagles great (best ever) running back, Steve Van Buren, his amazing life story, from the Caribbean, to Louisiana, to Philly, it's also a story of the United States' east coast cities post WWII. Bunch doesn't shy away from the impact of racism on the city of Philadelphia and the nation as a whole that year. Bunch devotes some space to the Democratic National convention held earlier that year at Philly's Convention Hall when Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey gave a speech embracing civil rights and witnessed the walkout by Strom Thurmond and the rise of the "Dixie-crats". While Bunch embraces the Eagles and the snowy conditions they battled to win, he doesn't whitewash history. Bunch dutifully calls out the NFL for not integrating, especially since Jackie Robinson played major league baseball the year before.

Against this backdrop of one game, played on one day, Bunch weaves tales of fans, young and old, male and female along with the players, coaches and the late, great father of the modern NFL, Bert Bell as they make their way to the game. As one who cringes at the over-hyped, over-marketed, NFL of today (especially today), Bunch begins his tale with the NFL posponing an Eagles-Vikings game in 2010 because of a "forecast" of heavy snow. Yikes! Then we are back to 1948 and how Bert Bell would not have postponed that game for anything (ya gotta read the book to find out why).

Bunch brings it home in a very unsentimental but moving way: how players then and now are suffering with the after effects of playing a violent sport and the trauma it took on their bodies and their minds. Concussions, broken limbs, torn joints and battered faces still cry for attention from the NFL. While the "88 Plan" is helping players like Van Buren (alive and kicking at 91)Bunch doesn't let the NFL off the hook and advocates for better conditions for the players of yesterday and today.

I found this book to be a delightful read and even though I was 4 at the time of the last Eagles championship (1960 against Lombardie's Packers) and may never live to see the Birds win a Super Bowl, Give it to Steve made this long-suffering Iggle fan's heart swell with pride.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining piece of sports history 13 Nov. 2013
By Jim Lester - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is an interesting article on sports history. It details the 1948 NFL championship game between the Chicago Cardinals and the Philadelphia Eagles that was played in Shribe Park in Philadelphia in an all out blizzard. Bunch keeps the focus on the Eagles' star player, running back (half back in those days) Steve Van Buren who almost didn't make the game because of the storm. The details of the game are entertaining but the real value of the article is the historical contrast with the modern NFL. Bunch does an outstanding job of showing the working class origins of pro football and the incredible toughness of men who fought in World War II and then played football in leather helmets with no face masks. And he shows the price they paid later in life for that toughness.

As someone who has written on sports history (HOOP CRAZY: COLLEGE BASKETBALL IN THE 1950S), I would highly recommend this well written article to anyone interested in the history of pro football or American social and cultural history in general.
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