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The New Yorker on 'The Unbeautiful Game'

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by 21, Jan 17, 2007.

  1. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    'What's happened to football?'

    Desperately looking for a link or pastable text for Adam Gopnik's piece in the Jan 8th issue of The New Yorker.

    In short, the days of Semi-Tough laffs are over....the game is boring, the players are boring, even the books are boring. Lots on the current literature (including a sympathetic nod to board fave Charlie Pierce for having to find something interesting about Tom Brady for his recent book), noting that while many (especially Feinstein's on the Ravens) aspire to recreate the greatness of Roy Blount Jr's classic 'Three Bricks Shy of a Load', none come close....there's just no fun to be had. Also mentioned are Tom Callahan's book on Unitas, and Michael Lewis's The Blind Side. I would love to hear one of those writers respond to the story, which is depressing as hell, and quite debatable.

    We should have invited Pierce to talk with us about the Brady book, I think he and Kindred are the only two gents in the business who never get ripped here. We made Dave famous, maybe we can do the same for Charlie.

    If I find a link, I will post.
  2. Pringle

    Pringle Active Member

    I liked the piece, but I think Gopnik could have gone even deeper into what a boring lot today's football players have become. The coaches have just drained every last ounce of personality out of the game, fancying themselves as one step below Navy admirals on the leadership continuum. It's depressing to cover. Gopnik certainly does talk about how players are all accutely aware of the consequences of speaking to a reporter. To which I always wonder ... why is everyone so damned worried about what people will think of him?

    I'm sure Feinstein liked reading that Pierce's book is "better written."
  3. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    I read it and he's wrong that Roy Blount's book makes no mention of the Steelers using steroids. There's a passage about a lineman named Jim Clack admitting he used them and that they worked. He bulked up by about 30 pounds in the time between the draft and training camp, and probably wouldn't have made the team otherwise. Clack's wife made him stop using because she was worried about the long-term health effects. (Clack died relatively young, don't know if there was any suspicion his use was a contributing factor).

    It's also somewhat disingenuous to mention the steroid issue because it obviously didn't have the prominence in 1973 (when Blount wrote the book) as it does today.

    Gopnik is also off base claiming Blount "missed the fact that Joe Gilliam was not a free spirit but a heroin addict." There is no evidence that Gilliam was using heroin in 1973, the season Blount spent with the team. Gilliam was Pittsburgh's starter at the open of the 1974 season, so if Blount missed it, so did Chuck Noll and the Rooneys.

    Considering the New Yorker's reputation for fact checking, I was disappointed in Gopnik's piece.
  4. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    Was there a time when the majority of football players were interesting? One of the reasons that Joe Namath was so controversial was he didn't automatically say that the next opponent was "a fine football team and we're going to have to play our best to have a chance to win."

    I remember when the Lombardi Packers were the prominent team, and there weren't a lot of colorful/controversial quotes coming out of Green Bay.

    There have always been a certain number of outspoken free spirits. I would say the percentage today is higher than it was in the good old days.
  5. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    But Dave was ripped on here -- for not posting enough. It cost him new comer of the year.

    Gopnik story was a good one. One of those unexpected gems that pop up in The New Yorker every now and then.

    I agree with his basic premise that todays NFL players are a colorless lot.Also agree with him that 3 Bricks Shy of a Load is the signature book of the NFL genre. I am not sure though that there is a writer of today capable of writing something like that. Charles Pierce seems too serious to pull off a Roy Blount. Perhaps Peter King could write an unintentionally funny book about his training camp travels.
  6. Pringle

    Pringle Active Member

    I consider myself corrected then.

    I don't think he gave Feinstein enough credit. Feinstein's book draws a lot out of players like Deion Sanders and many others. The players come off as quite thoughtful and conversational. Makes me read it and realize how much I despise the necessary evil that is the group gang bang.
  7. jaredk

    jaredk Member

    I have two books of doggerel on dogs written by Roy Blount Jr. Really. On dogs. They're hilarious. The Steelers of "Three Bricks" are fun mostly because Roy Blount Jr. is a freakin' genius comic writer who could make you laugh with a note to the milkman. I have within reach at all times his essay, "How to Sport Write Good." Nails us good.
  8. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    Terrell Owens is not boring.

    Chad Johnson is not boring.

    Ray Lewis is not boring.

    The word "boring" appears in the piece only once, and it's in a quote taken from Johnny Unitas' biography.

    The gist of the piece is that the NFL is not like Semi-Tough or About Three Bricks Shy of a Load or any of those seminal 1970s described. And that it never really was. It looks different depending on how you see it. And that mainly the NFL is business and people are there to make money.
  9. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    Name me one team in the NFL this year that you would consider colorful say like the 85 Bears?

    The game I watched Sunday the most colorful guy in the stadium was doing sideline reporting -- Tony Siragusa
  10. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    Well, Semi-Tough was fiction.

    "Three Bricks Shy" was a result of Blount's basically hanging out with the Steelers for an entire season. A lot of it takes place far away from the field and without the usual constraints of media availability.

    The NFL was a business then, too, and people were out to make money. They just made less then.
  11. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    So one historically memorable team is the measuring stick for all of football now? Name 10 teams like them throughout NFL history.
  12. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    Mad Ducks and Bears by George Plimpton is right up there with Three Bricks Shy of A Load except the team was not near as good.

    The Lions of the late 60's were a very colorful group.
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