Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Book Review: Next Man Up by John Feinstein

The author spent a year with the Baltimore Ravens and the result is this book that describes in-depths the 2004 season with the NFL team. It's curious to note there is no mention of the Ravens visible on the front cover, the back cover or the inside flaps of the dust cover. Maybe this marketing ploy is to entice all readers interested in the NFL and not just Raven fans. In any case, this is a fantastic look inside a year of a NFL team, as well as a look at how NFL players go through the emotions of being cut, getting injured, going through real-life trials, relationships with coaches and owners, and the ups and downs of winning and losing on a weekly basis. Peppered throughout the book are mini-bios of several players and coaches, including the stars of the team as well as some players who were cut in training camp or who barely made the 53-man squad. These sections are most worthwhile to Ravens fans.

The devoted NFL fan will not find any startling newsflashes or issues regarding the game, but there are certainly several interesting tidbits and stories throughout the book, such as: the difference between the Raven's owner (Steve Bisciotti) and the Redskin's owner (Daniel Snyder); the Terrell Owens debacle - before the season and the game against the Eagles; the discussions that take place in the draft war room, specifically the GM Ozzie Newsome; the role of religion in the NFL; and many other issues. So this book may be more appealing to the casual fan than the fanatic. There is no gambling related issues in this book and there is nothing useful to the sports bettor.

Feinstein's writing style is so smooth and so readable, it makes this book worthwhile and I recommend it to any sports fan - even those fans of the Steelers, the Bengals and the Browns!

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