The Fantasies of Ray Lewis

51khrr48bKL__SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Arrogant.  Narcissistic.  Self-serving.  Fantastical.

Those are the first adjectives that come to mind after reading this autobiography of Ray Lewis.

Before launching into a fuller review of this autobiography let me say that in my football viewing lifetime Ray Lewis is one of the three best linebackers I’ve ever seen behind only Lawrence Taylor and Mike Singletary.  He is one of the rare defensive players who could literally take over a game single-handedly and was the driving force behind one of the best defensive teams of all time, the 2000 Baltimore Ravens.  He is the two-time winner of the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award, and the rare defensive player being named the Super Bowl MVP in Super Bowl XXXV.  He will certainly be a first ballot NFL Hall of Famer when he is eligible.

The first part of the book details how Ray Lewis grew up very poor with numerous siblings from different fathers.  One really unusual story is how Ray Lewis got his name.  Lewis was not the last name of his father but another man who agreed to let his mother use his name on his birth certificate as the father.  And after that is appears his mother went from one bad man to another.  Lewis details how he was abused by some of these men as a child and how he lived in the shadow of his real father who was a local sports star gone bad.  The lack of a father figure and abuse from other men as a kid certainly appears to have had a negative impact on Lewis.

Lewis provides an account of his life growing up poor and often abused with sports being his outlet which kept him on a relatively even path to college and becoming a star at the University of Miami in its football heydays.  It’s interesting that he spends relatively few pages detailing his time at Miami but a few interesting items emerge.  First his overweening arrogance and disrespect for Coach Butch Davis comes roaring through. Given his attitude that the team was “his” I am a little surprised that he eventually showed the kind of leadership he did in the NFL.

The other very interesting story I learned is the origins of his decade long rivalry with Eddie George which had its beginnings in an almost violent confrontation they had a party while in college and George was at Ohio State.  I always wondered where their animosity in the pros came from.

Once Lewis gets to the NFL is where things start really getting bizarre. Let’s jump right to the infamous night in Atlanta where two men were knifed to death in an incident Ray Lewis was involved in.  The entire chapter devoted to this is mostly an attempt to whitewash the entire affair and not everything that Lewis said necessarily adds up to what was reported in the court.

Lewis’s story is he was partying with an entourage dressed in a white suit.  He maintains that he didn’t even know everybody rolling with this party as there were several hangers on he didn’t know.  Leaving the club they were confronted by some hoodlums who threatened Lewis with violence and hit his friend over the head with a bottle.  Thus, the profusely bleeding head wound that bloodied Lewis’s white suit.  Lewis claims he was trying to protect people in his car as they sped off to gunshots being fired.  Later he found out two people were stabbed to death in the altercation and eventually was questioned by police.

His account of the event makes some sense, but really doesn’t answer a key question:  What happened to the bloody white suit the police were looking for?  Well, we still don’t know.  If innocent, why have it disposed of, which is clearly what happened.

Some of Lewis’s account does make sense.  Rich athletes, especially ones wearing flashy white suits are often targets of verbal or physical violence, or at least provocation.  That there were several hangers on that Lewis didn’t even know also makes sense.  Of course groupies and others are going to gravitate to Lewis’s group if he lets them in.

What is baffling is what happened to the white suit?  Why hide it?  Why obfuscate the investigation, which clearly happened?  Why so defensive when the police originally show up, which Lewis admits to.

Then things get even more bizarre.  To sum it up, Ray Lewis claimed the police and prosecutors where out to get him and that is how he wound up pleading guilty to obstruction of justice and he claims the entire reason he was charged with obstruction is because he couldn’t name all the people in his car.  Where they out to get him?  Maybe, who knows?

Then it gets even more bizarre.  Lewis claim the Atlanta police physically abused him while he was in jail, and goes into great detail about it, at one point saying “I was crucified, man”.  This I find hard to believe because if true, someone of Ray Lewis’s stature would be suing the Atlanta police for this.  And the police would be stupid to abuse someone of his stature for fear of it getting publicity.  Well, I take that last part back, some police are stupid.

But, it gets even better!!  God started talking to Ray Lewis in his jail cell.  And that what was happening to him would make him stronger.

Do I believe Ray Lewis murdered anyone?  No, having followed the case the prosecutors were incompetent and had little evidence against Ray Lewis other than he was at some point at the scene.  In fact, they were so incompetent nobody has been convicted of the crime to this day.  I do wonder where the bloody white suit is though.  And Ray Lewis’s behavior was certainly suspect after the event.  And I don’t think the two murdered men where choir boys.  I know nothing about them though, but the whole event does make it look like Ray Lewis was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with people targeting him because he is rich and famous.

Finally, the rest of the very strange saga of Ray Lewis.  As most people know he suffered a significant injury in his last season with the Ravens that would have ended most players’ season.  The Ravens put him on Injured Reserve designated to return (the first year this rule was in place).  Ray Lewis did indeed return, not fully recovered from a torn triceps.  He likened it to a miracle.  And it kind of was.

But the real miracle was how Lewis essentially implies he is the reason the Ravens won the Super Bowl and again heard the voice of God during the game in which she or he said “trust Jacoby Jones” and Ray put his hand on Jones’ chest.  Jones went on to return the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown.  GIVE ME A BREAK!

In summary this book is all, I, I, I.  Teammates are rarely mentioned in the success of the Ravens, it was all Ray, all the time.

It is a little bit hard to even describe how self-serving and delusional this autobiography is.

I don’t recommend reading it, unless you like fantasy stories.

I Feel Like Going On: Life, Game, and Glory

 

 

NFL 2012 Season Week Six Observations: Is Ray Lewis’s Career Over?

Observations from Week Six

Ray Lewis: Hearing that Ray Lewis is probably out for the season with a torn triceps, which could possibly mean the end of his career, is kind of tragic. To me there are only three current NFL players that absolute locks for being first ballot Hall of Famers, Ray Lewis, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning. (Now I know some will argue that Eli Manning and probably Ben Roethlisberger will get in too because of their Super Bowl wins, but they are not as good as those threes. Eli will probably get in for his last name as much as his heroics in the playoffs.)

In my time watching football only two linebackers jump out as being otherworldly, Lawrence Taylor and Ray Lewis. It will be a shame if we suddenly no longer see Ray Lewis on the field again. He has been the heart and soul of the Ravens entire team since its beginnings in 1996 and his name will forever be linked to the franchise that he has been the face of for nearly two decades.

I’m obviously not a Ravens fan, but you can’t help but be a fan of Ray Lewis.

Baltimore Ravens: With both Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb out for the season, and Ed Reed not really playing like the Ed Reed of old, the Ravens could be in trouble. They have world of talent on offense but still don’t seem to get it all together. They are a lucky 5-1, but they have made the plays to win games. But their defense could be in trouble, even if Terrell Suggs does come back soon.

Parity in the League: Everyone thought the Houston Texans were the best team in the NFL but the beat down they received by the Green Bay Packers really exposed them. The Atlanta Falcons are undefeated but won some very close games and are clearly beatable. The 5-1 Ravens are in the same category as the Falcons and look vulnerable, especially on defense with the injuries to Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb. The San Francisco 49’ers came into the season as the favorite pick as the number one team but they’ve lost two games. Meanwhile, the Patriots look average at 3-3. It should make for an interesting second half of the season.

Thursday Night Football: I’m not sure I am all that in favor of the Thursday Night Football every week. Favored teams seem to play down to the level of their competition and exposes players to injuries.

The Week of Meltdowns: I thought Tom Brady was the goat of the week against Seattle with his two interceptions and intentional grounding penalties essentially costing us the game, or maybe Tony Romo who just can’t get his offense to make the plays necessary to win a game. But Philip Rivers took it to an entirely different level in his complete meltdown against the Broncos Monday night. It was one of the worst quarterback performances I have ever seen. And the Houston Texans added to the trend Sunday night with their own embarrassing performance against the Green Bay Packers.

Russell Sherman, CB, Seattle Seahawks: Keep your mouth shut punk. You’re embarrassing yourself.


GAMES I WATCHED

Seattle Seahawks over New England Patriots, 24-23

I really hate saying this but Tom Brady was the goat in the New England Patriots loss to the Seahawks. Granted our defensive backs, especially our safeties, were atrocious during the game. And letting Golden Tate catch the ball deep in the fourth quarter for the winning score was a total and utter unacceptable blunder by Travon Wilson of the Patriots. That defense is designed NOT to give up the big play.

Nevertheless, Tom Brady’s two poor decisions on the interceptions, one in the red zone, were extremely costly. His intentional grounding at the end of the first half that required a runoff kept us from kicking a chip shot field goal. And his intentional grounding late in the game gave Seattle the ball in really good field position. Eliminate any of those four plays and we probably win the game. Eliminate all of them and might not have even been close.

The most worrisome aspect of this game is it exposed New England as an average team with a weak defense. The lack the killer instinct they had a few years ago to put teams away, and instead of making the two or three key plays a game to pull out close ones, they are the ones making the mistakes that cost them games. It’s real concern.

Seattle’s defense, despite giving up nearly 500 yards on offense, still won the game for them. They may have the best collection of starting defensive backs in the league and they match up well against bigger receivers. I like quarterback Russell Wilson and think he has a very promising future. His mobility and ability to get the ball down the field are impressive. But right now he’s not that great of a quarterback and don’t see Seattle matching up down the line with the hotter teams. But you never know, Green Bay and San Francisco are both struggling, the New Orleans Saints are all but out of it, so it could be one of those years an unexpected and maybe somewhat average teams rises from the pack. We’ll see.

MVP: Russell Sherman, CB

Tennessee Titans over Pittsburgh Steelers, 26-23

Pittsburgh definitely did not have their best outing against the Titans, except for Isaac Redman who had over 100 yards receiving. Once he got hurt, it seemed Pittsburgh’s offense couldn’t do much of anything. Tennessee didn’t really do all that much either. Kenny Britt dropped the ball, ran wrong routes, but still had some key plays to get the win. It was still an entertaining game though since it was close and came down to the wire. Given all the sloppy play though, Rob Bironis and his four field goals win the day.

MVP: Rob Bironis, K

Baltimore Ravens over Dallas Cowboys, 31-29

Baltimore has been really, really lucky to be 5-1. In fact all their games have been close. Dallas rushed for well over 200 yards against the Ravens and still found a way to lose. But on the flip side of that Baltimore has had a knack for making the key plays to win games, in this case a record tying 108 yard kickoff return by Jacoby Jones, which ultimately was the difference in the game.

Both teams came away from this contest with significant injuries, more so Baltimore who lost Ray Lewis and starting cornerback Lardarius Webb to season ending injuries. Defensively, Baltimore may be in big trouble. Dallas lost starting running back Demarco Murray to a foot injury near the end of the first half. Before that he was on pace for a 200 yard plus rushing day.

The story of this game, Dallas continues to be pretenders and not contenders.

MVP: Jacoby Jones, WR/KR

Green Bay Packers over Houston Texans, 42-24

There were a lot of total meltdowns by teams and players this week, and Houston was certainly part of that parade. They got thumped by the Green Bay Packers on both sides of the ball while Aaron Rodgers put on a clinic in his six touchdown performance.

Houston’s defense, presumably one of the best in the league, not only got thrashed, but was undisciplined and completely fell apart in the second half. And the Packers defense shut down the run while Matt Schaub couldn’t get anything going. This really exposed Houston, at the time considered by some to be the best team in the league, as certainly beatable. The Packers simply steamrolled them.

Clay Matthews, Jr. was a beast, as usual on defense for the Packers. But J.J. Watt, Houston’s contender for Defensive Player of the Year, was erased.

For Green Bay, is this a sign they are back on track to where they were the past two years? Was Houston exposed as weak, not well rounded football team? Time will tell.

Denver Broncos over San Diego Chargers, 35-24

The biggest, most embarrassing meltdown of all ended the week as Philip Rivers completely imploded in the second half with five turnovers, poor quarterbacking, and just atrocious play all the way around. The Broncos, led by Peyton Manning overcame a 24-0 halftime deficit to come back and win the game. Of course they were largely aided by two defensive scores for 14 of those points and a tough defense, but the poise of Manning and the offense in the second half was still impressive.

This is typical San Diego and Norv Turner coached football, good solid talent but just get it all together.

Frankly, I found it fun to watch.

MVP: Peyton Manning, QB

Washington Redskins over Minnesota Vikings, 38-26

Robert Griffin III. End of story.

I mean really? The running, the smart passing. RG3 is carrying the Redskins right now and making everyone around him better. If, and that is a big if with his style of play and the Shanahans’ stupid play calling putting him at risks constantly on option plays, he is going to be a phenomenal.

MVP: Robert Griffin III, QB

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Offensive Player: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Defensive Player: Clay Matthews, LB, Green Bay Packers
Offensive Lineman: Michael Oher, T, Baltimore Ravens
Special Teams: Jacoby Jones, WR/KR, Baltimore Ravens
Rookie of the Week: Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins


Doug Baker’s All Decade Team 2000’s: Defense

Following is the definitive defensive team of the decade for the years 2000-2009. The defense was much more difficult to choose than the offense because there are so many deserving players and statistics are not as helpful in evaluating the impact of a player on the game. For example, a shut down cornerback does not get many interceptions because nobody wants to throw the ball his way and a stout defensive tackle doesn’t get credit for the havoc he wreaks allowing other players to get to the quarterback or ball carrier.

As for the offense, in some cases I am choosing several players for a position, for example I have four defensive ends, because all deserve to make the team. But I rank them in the order I would place them from starters to backups. In other cases I name just one set of starters if those making the cut are deemed to be clearly better than their counterparts.

I only use statistics where needed when players are fairly close and it helps differentiate between contenders for key spots.

Fact checking was done using the following:  NFL.com, 2009 NFL Record and Fact Book, Pro-Football-Reference.com, and Wikipedia.com.

DE: Michael Strahan, New York Giants
DE: Jared Allen, Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings
DE: Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis Colts
DE: Jason Taylor, Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins

I am shocked that Michael Strahan is not mentioned more often as a contender for All Decade Teams. Maybe it’s because he played from 1993 to 2007. But he had a very dominant 2000’s at defensive end and even at the end of his career was an integral part of the New York Giants unlikely Super Bowl run in 2007. In 2001 he set the single season sack record with 22.5 sacks and was named the Associated Press’s Defensive Player of the Year. In his 15 year career he made seven Pro Bowls, four of them in the 2000’s. He ranks fifth all time in sacks with 141.5, with 88 of those coming in the 2000’s. To me he was the “face” of the defense end position of the 2000’s.

Jared Allen is probably a more controversial choice, or at least his placement on the list, but to me he is the best defensive end in the league today. In his six years since 2004 he has racked up 71 sacks and plays the run equally as well as the pass. Usually he is blocked by two or more offensive linemen, helping his teammates make plays. And he has a motor that never stops running. Far after he might have seemed out of a play, he suddenly appears for the tackle or the sack. He lead the league in sacks with 15.5 in 2007.

Typically Dwight Freeney is mention as the top defensive end of this decade. I have seen way too many games where teams, smartly, run right at Freeney, successfully. He just does not play the run as well as the pass. I wouldn’t call him one dimensional but his specialty is the pass rush, which he excels at. In his eight years as a pro from 2002 to 2009 he has recorded 84 sacks, which ranks sixth among active defensive players. He has been to five Pro Bowls and was named the Associated Press’s AFC Defensive Player of the Year in 2005.

In his 13 year career from 1997 to 2009, Jason Taylor has been one of the best at his position. He has a total of 127.5 sacks, placing him 11th on the all time list (and number one among active players). He has been a mainstay at defensive end for the Miami Dolphins (discounting his failed stint with the Washington Redskins). He has been to six Pro Bowls and was the Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the year in 2006. While Taylor plays the run reasonably well for his size, I give Strahan and Allen an edge in that category.

Julius Peppers of the Carolina Panthers would have been the fifth pick.

DT: Kevin Williams, Minnesota Vikings
DT: Richard Seymour, New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders

Kevin Williams has been a consistent and steady performer at this position in his seven seasons with the Minnesota Vikings from 2003 to present. He has started all but one game in this span and has made the Pro Bowl five times. I consider him the best defensive tackle in the league as of today.

Richard Seymour has played somewhat of a hybrid position as an end/tackle but is mostly considered a defensive tackle. He, like Kevin Williams, has been a very steady performer when not injured. His impact on the Patriots defenses of the 2000’s can be seen by how those defenses struggle when he is out of the lineup. In his nine year career spanning 2001 to present he has made five Pro Bowls.

Defensive tackle was one of the toughest positions in some ways, but easy in others. There are some high impact but inconsistent players like Albert Haynesworth, the oft injured Kris Jenkins, and Shaun Rodgers. Haynesworth is the most likely to be considered a snub but he really only had one great year and a few good years, but he’s mostly been in inconsistent.

Warren Sapp was hard to leave off the team, but his career split the 1990’s and 2000’s and he had a better 1990’s as a younger player and is on the NFL’s 1990’s All Decade Team.

Jamal Williams of San Diego was also considered but was edged out by Seymour.

Haloti Nagta of the Baltimore Ravens has emerged as one of the best defensive tackles in the league but just hasn’t been around long enough to make the team.

La’Roi Glover of the New Orleans Saints also had a good first half of the decade.

OLB: Derrick Brooks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
OLB: Joey Porter, Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins
OLB: DeMarcus Ware, Dallas Cowboys

Derrick Brooks was an easy choice for the top outside linebacker position. He was the leader of one of the best defenses in the NFL in the late 1990’s and first few years of the 2000’s. In his 14 seasons spanning 1995-2008, he made the Pro Bowl 11 times. He was named the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year in 2002, the year the stout Buccaneers defense lead the team to it’s only Super Bowl championship.

It pains me to put Joey Porter on this list because he is one of most unlikable and despicable players in the league. But in his 11 year career spanning from 1999 to present he has wracked up 91 sacks, second among active players only to Jason Taylor. He has been a very stout run defender throughout as his career as well and an integral part of the great Steelers defenses of the decade.

DeMarcus Ware has been in the league only five seasons (2005 to 2009) but has already achieved 64.5 sacks, which is his specialty. Frankly, he is a bit one dimensional and does not perform nearly as well against the run. He lead the league in sacks in 2008 with 20, threatening the record held by Michael Strahan. He has been to the Pro Bowl four of his five seasons.

ILB: Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens
ILB: Brian Urlacher, Chicago Bears

Ray Lewis has been the dominant defense player of this decade. Year after year, even when aging, he continues to amaze with his performances. He lead the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl victory in the 2000 season. How often do you hear that about a defense player? The Ravens defense in 2000 is considered one of the best defenses of all time alongside the 1985 Bears, and Ray Lewis was the most important component of that defense. In his 14 years with the Ravens, 1996 to present, he has been named to 11 Pro Bowls and was the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year twice (in 2000 and 2003). He is also the MVP of Super Bowl XXXV.

Brian Urlacher has been in the league ten years, ironically 2000 to 2009, although he has lost most of two seasons to injuries. When healthy, his size and speed at middle linebacker make him one of the most versatile defensive players in the league. Urlacher was the Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the year in 2000 and the Defensive Player of the Year in 2005. He’s been to the Pro Bowl six times.

The only other player considered for this award was London Fletcher, currently with the Washington Redskins. He has been consistently one of the best inside linebackers in the league during his career spanning 1998 to present with the St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills, and now Redskins. Ironically, he has never made a Pro Bowl, which is a travesty.

Patrick Willis of the San Francisco 49’ers has only been in the league three years but seems poised to have a Hall of Fame caliber career.

CB: Champ Bailey, Washington Redskins and Denver Broncos
CB: Ronde Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Champ Bailey has easily been the best cornerback of this decade. He is perennially seen as one of the best cover corners in the league but he plays the run equally as well. He is not afraid to make a tackle. Now in his 11th season, spanning 1999 to present, he has made nine Pro Bowls. He was named Doug Baker’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2006 (over Jason Taylor).

Ronde Barber is in his 13th season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a career spanning 1997 to present. He is the only cornerback to have recorded 20 interceptions and 20 touchdowns in a career. He lead the league in interceptions with 10 in 2001 (tied with Anthony Henry of the Cleveland Browns) and was an important part of the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl run. He is a five time Pro Bowl selection.

Other noteworthy players considered were Ty Law who spent most of his career with the New England Patriots, Antoine Winfield of the Buffalo Bills and now Minnesota Vikings, and Charles Woodson of the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers.

SS: Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers
SS: Brian Dawkins, Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos

Troy Polamalu may be the best strong safety I’ve ever seen. He has an uncanny nose for the ball and seems to be in on nearly every play. He often comes from very odd angles or far away from the play to get into the action. Now in his seventh season (2003 to present) with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he has been a leader on the defense that has been the primary reason the Steelers have won two Super Bowl’s this decade. He has made the Pro Bowl five times.

Brian Dawkins has to make this list and some will strongly argue he deserves to be in the number one slot. In his 14 year career spanning 1996 to present he has made 8 Pro Bowls and has been not only the leader one some of the best defenses in the league, but a high character player who makes his teammates better.

Rodney Harrison of the New England Patriots is my favorite strong safety of all time along with Tim Fox, and hopefully my fellow Patriots fan will recognized that hard nosed, hard hitting name from the 1970’s.

FS:  Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens

Ed Reed has been the most dominant free saftey this decade.  He is an unbelievable ball hawk and, along with Ray Lewis, has kept the Baltimore Ravens near the top in among defenses in the NFL.  In his eight year careeer he has made eight Pro Bowls and was named the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year in 2004.  He also has the longest interception return for a touchdown (108 yards) and lead the league in intercpetions in 2004 and 2008.

P: Shane Lechler, Oakland Raiders

From 2000-2009 he is the all time career leader in punting average with a 47.3 yards per kick. Don’t let that fool you, he can stick it in an ear hole and pin the ball deep too.

Special Teams: Larry Izzo, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, and New York Jets

Larry was special teams standout throughout his tenure with the New England Patriots and their championship seasons. Like Steve Tasker for the Bills in their heyday, he made play after play in a an oft overlooked but important aspect of the game.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE DECADE: RAY LEWIS, BALTIMORE RAVENS

Hands down, Ray Lewis has been the best defensive player of the decade. Who else?

Ray Lewis, the best defensive player of the 2000's

Book Review: “Next Man Up: A Year Behind The Lines In Today’s NFL”

168457Next Man Up: A Year Behind the Lines in Today’s NFL
By John Feinstein

“Next Man Up” is an inside look at a year behind the scenes of a National Football League team. John Feinstein, a well-regarded sports writer, spent the 2004 season with the Baltimore Ravens. It is a well-written account of what it’s like for the players, coaches, and owners to go through an NFL season—and, in this case, a disappointing one, as the Ravens did not make the playoffs.

The pressure on coaches and players is tremendous and the physical toll of the game on players palpable. While there is nothing that is going to shock or be particularly new to NFL fans here, it nevertheless is very interesting.

The Ravens in 2004 were a team with high hopes that failed to make the playoffs. There was tension on the team between offensive and defensive coaches because the defense was great and the offense pedestrian at best. Interestingly, that tension didn’t seem to seep in among the players.

We also get a look at Steve Bisciotti, the new Ravens owner, and his style of leadership and what he expects of his players and coaches.

Additionally, there are interesting insights into players like Ray Lewis, kicker Matt Stover, malcontent Chris McCallister, Neon Deon Sanders, and others. Terrell Owens and the fiasco of the Ravens trying to trade for him also makes a cameo appearance. Then-coach Brian Billick also is explored.

Finally, there are certainly themes to this team, such as the role of religion, the development (or lack thereof) of young quarterback Kyle Boller, the firing of Matt Cavanaugh (offensive coordinator) at the end of the season, and even insights into Dan Snyder, the brash owner of the Redskins, through the eyes of Mike Nolan, who used to coach for him.

And the overriding theme of the book is the intense pressure on players and coaches to win.

Overall, this was a worthwhile and interesting book for NFL fans, but not that insightful for someone who spent a year with a team, from the draft and workouts to being at each game and several coaches’ meetings. Also, at times, Feinstein makes unnecessary, petulant commentary on things unrelated to the book (like taking swipes at Al Michaels), which I found somewhat childish and detracting.

Nevertheless, NFL fans should enjoy this one.

Next Man Up: A Year Behind the Lines in Today’s NFL