I have always considered Peter King to be a bit of a blowhard and this book mostly confirms my opinion. Monday Morning Quarterback is a compendium of King’s writings and articles about the National Football League in the print and online versions of Sports Illustrated. As a result it is a bit of a hodgepodge, jumping back and forth between topics, with mostly short topical comments on many aspects of professional football.
I did find the book rather entertaining though. I particularly liked where he makes lists, my favorite being his ranking of the greatest 100 football players of all time, and his list of the smartest coaches of all time. Lists are always fun because there is plenty of room for disagreement and prompts you think what your own list would look like. Who do you think King considers the greatest receiver of all time? It’s not Jerry Rice.
Given that King is all over the map in this book I’ll suffice it to say he does have some rather nice pieces in here. My favorites are where he talks about a particular person in the context of their character or an event. For example, the opening article on Ernie Accorsi, former General Manager of the New York Giants, and the story behind the Eli Manning for Philip Rivers trade during the 2004 draft is intriguing. His insights into Tony Dungy and Brett Favre are also insightful.
This book also includes asides about King and his love of his kids’ sports, which are really totally unrelated to the topic at hand, but worthwhile reading nonetheless.
And despite that I find King a blowhard, he is self deprecating at time, like when he admits his prognostications that were utterly wrong.
The aspect of the book that is the most bothersome is his articles about Brett Favre. King admits he became good friends with Brett Favre when he stayed with Favre and his wife while writing a story on him. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. But, he is so close to Favre that he even brokered a phone call between Favre and an agent when Favre was contemplating coming out of retirement and was looking to sign with another team. I know in sports journalism the line is often crossed between being an unbiased reporter and a participant in the events. And while I will take King at his word when he says he has some insight into what Favre is thinking, his opinions about the drama king are not worth quite as much. He is no longer an objective observer on that topic.
That said, overall this was a worthwhile read and mostly entertaining.