Friday, June 7, 2024

Review: Why We Love Football (2024)

By Joe Posnanski

There are a couple of references to the joys of repetition in Joe Posnanski's book, "Why We Love Football."

One centers on Jim Brown. He was/is the greatest fullback in the sport's history. Occasionally the Browns would try to get a little cute about their offense. Then the light bulb would go on, and the team would simply hand the ball to Brown and let him run with it a lot. Wash, rinse, repeat. Maybe, that should read - wash, rinse, repeat, win. Brown would lead them into the end zone for the score, and good times would follow.

Then there's the story of the Vince Lombardi and the Power Sweep. Football fans can still picture it in the mind, as Jerry Kramer and Fuzzy Thurston lead Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor around the end for a good gainer. Lombardi had specific assignments for that play, and one time at practice at one time he did nothing but go over that one play. It was tough to execute perfectly, but the Packers were really good at it in the 1960s. No wonder they won a lot of games. No wonder it's now called the Lombardi Sweep.

In 2023, Posnanski wrote "Why We Love Baseball: A History in 50 Moments." A year later, he has come up with "Why We Love Football: A History in 100 Moments." The first book went over extremely well. Why wouldn't you want to try something very similar a short time later? Of course, you would. So it's good to see this football version arrives, and it still goes down very smoothly - as most of Posnanski's work does.

There are a couple of differences between the baseball and football version of the same thought. In baseball, the book more or less sticks to the major leagues. But the football side of the coin covers all of the sport. That means that we hear about Stanford-California ("The band is on the field"), among other interesting moments. High school ball isn't completely ignored either. So maybe that's why we go from 50 moments in baseball to 100 moments. There was a lot of ground to cover.

Posnanski's writing style probably works a little better with baseball. He does sentiment and romance well, and there's a lot of that in the history of baseball. Football usually has a little less of those qualities attached to it, perhaps because it has been a major sport for a smaller amount of time. It's a minor point, one that won't get in the way of your enjoyment of the book. Posnanski starts with Aaron Donald (he reveals the reason why later in the book), and races through everything from trick plays to NFL Films, from a rendition of the National Anthem to Appalachian State's amazing win over Michigan. 

Once again, Posnanski doesn't get hung up in the order of the selections (although the football list has fewer gimmicks than its baseball counterpart). He simply has fun with the choices.  By the way, I never saw the No. 1 choice coming, and I'd bet you won't either.

Posnanski hasn't written a book that's not entertaining yet, and "Why We Love Football" continues that winning streak. If you see his name on the front cover, you'll enjoy it and get your money's worth. That's the type of consistency we can all enjoy.

Four stars

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