Big Play: Barra on Football

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Potomac Books, Inc., 2004 - Sports & Recreation - 280 pages
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In a follow-up to his Clearing the Bases--Sports Illustrated’s book of the year for 2002--syndicated columnist Allen Barra turns his eye from America’s pastime to America’s passion. In this collection of essays, Barra delves into the gridiron’s all-time greats, some of the sport’s enduring controversies, and suggests new ways to think about the game that holds our attention from August through January, every year. Barra turns his aggressively intelligent writing to the Heisman Trophy and its controversies and demonstrates why the Bowl Championship Series has not and cannot work. He explains how the infamous tie game between Notre Dame and Michigan State in 1966 changed football forever. He compares the careers of Bear Bryant and Vince Lombardi, George Allen and Don Shula, Bart Starr and Johnny Unitas, and Joe Montana and Steve Young, probing beyond the myths that surround each man and creating a new context to understand their achievements. He explains how Notre Dame embraced a destiny in pads, beyond the Gipper mystique and Rockne speeches. No other writer challenges a sport’s myths, untrue truisms, and legends the way Barra does in these essays. The achievement of a writer who manages a balance between establishment insider and outspoken iconoclast, Big Play explores issues and controversies that fire up pigskin fans. Blending statistical commentary with insight and biting commentary with genuine fandom, Barra provides readers with another dose of his passionate, opinionated, and unique analysis of football.
 

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Contents

1 The Rule That Changed Football As We Know It
1
2 Bart Starr vs Johnny UnitasA Distant Replay
9
3 Three Pieces about Bear Bryant And One about Vince Lombardi
31
4 The 69 Super Bowl Revisited
51
Young or Elway?
61
6 Herschel WalkerNeglected Superstar
73
7 The Four Horsemen and the Story That Changed Football
79
8 Two Pieces about Tim Brown
83
21 The 1987 StrikeTen Strike Stories the Media Has Fumbled
157
22 No Grumbling at Grambling
161
Road Warrior
171
24 Sack Athletic Scholarships
175
25 NFL Owners Pass on Free Market
179
College Football and the Politics of Trophies
183
27 Jamal Lewis Barry Sanders Jim Brown and the Myth of the Running Back
189
28 Rush Limbaugh Donovan McNabb and Me
195

9 Yank Grid Grips BritsAn American Football Game in London
91
10 Carmen PolicyKing of the Cap
95
The First Pro Football Player
101
Tarnished Hero
105
Y A Tittle and the Giants Who Almost Were
109
14 Super Bowl 02The Biggest Upset Ever
121
15 The Bear Wouldve Dug It
125
16 I Love Joe Paterno Too but
131
17 Mark BavaroRambo at Tight End
135
18 Heisman Trophy 1985The Smearing of Bo Jackson
141
19 Lou Holtz Kisses His Sister
147
20 Super Bowl 03What Makes a Team Go Flat
151
29 The Father of Pro Football Analysis
199
The Worst Game I Ever Loved
203
31 Polls n Bowls and the BCS Mess
207
32 Willie Morris and the Courting of Marcus Dupree
213
33 The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall of Notre Dame
233
34 Cloning Walter Payton
239
35 If Don ShulaWhy Not George Allen?
243
36 Why NFL Coaches Get Sacked
247
Epitaph for Footballs Babe Ruth
251
Notre Dame vsMichigan State vs AlabamaThe Game of Three Centuries
255
About the Author
281
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About the author (2004)

ALLEN BARRA has written for the WALL STREET JOURNAL, the NEW YORK TIMES, SALON.COM, and the VILLAGE VOICE. He is also heard regularly on NPR and Major League Baseball Radio. He lives in South Orange, New Jersey.

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