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Book Review by Stuart Nulman

The pro football hall of fame 50

th

anniversary book: Where greatness lives

by Joe Horrigan and John Thorn

The late Vince Lombardi, the legendary head coach of the Green Bay Packers during the 60s, once said that the sport of football "is a great deal like life in that it teaches that work, sacrifice,

Stuart Nulman

Book Banter Grand central Publishing, $38. 99

perseverance, competitive drive, selflessness, and respect for authority is the price that each and every one of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile." For over 90 years, American pro football has grown and evolved from a rough and tumble sport that resulted in fatalities, to a rite of fall that has preoccupied every Sunday for its multitude of devoted fans, from the pre-season to the Super Bowl. It has created its share of great moments, innovative ways to play the game, and legendary players who ever put on a uniform and thrown, kicked and caught a football. And like any revered professional sport, football has had it's share of temples and shrines. There's the "frozen tundra" of Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Soldier Field in Chicago, and the Orange Bowl in Miami. However, Canton, Ohio - where the first professional football team was formed (the Canton Bulldogs) and the National Football League (NFL) was established in 1920 - is the home to professional football's most revered shrine: the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It preserves the sport's rich and gritty history and every August, as the unofficial beginning of the NFL season, the hall conducts a ceremony to enshrine a new group of football players, coaches, executives and builders to honour their lasting significant contributions to the game. Next year, the Pro Football Hall of Fame celebrates the 50th anniversary of its opening. To commemorate its golden anniversary of preserving and honouring the greatest names and moments of the game, a won- derful, lavishly-illustrated book has just been published called "The Pro Football Hall of Fame 50th Anniversary Book: Where Greatness Lives". The book contains essays by 11 renowned sports writers, historians and football experts (including the late Steve Sabol of NFL Films fame), which gives interesting details to the more than century-long evolution of pro football, from the first pro football player (that distinction belongs to William "Pudge" Heffelfinger, a former star guard for Yale, who was paid a princely $500 to play a game for the Allegheny Athletic Association on November 12, 1892), to the formation of the NFL, to the acceptance of the forward pass, to the landmark 1958 NFL Championship Game, to the triumph of Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV. The essays are written with a great deal of fascinating stories without being drowned in too much information, and gives readers plenty of historical insight to football's drag-them-down, knockthem-out heritage (you even find out why the football field is called "the gridiron"). However, what makes this book so much fun to leaf through are the illustrations. They are taken from the hall of fame's vast collection of artifacts, photos, documentation and equipment that bring to life the history of pro football. There's plenty of jerseys past and present (including the original Baltimore Colts jersey - the colours were green and silver - and the Buffalo Bills' jersey O.J. Simpson wore in 1973 when he established the NFL's single season rushing record); ancient equipment (including leather helmets from the 1910s and 20s that offered very little protection); game footballs (such as the ball used in the 1958 NFL Championship Game, in which the Colts beat the Giants in overtime); unusual items (such as the piece of yellow coil from Lambeau Field's unique electrical field heating system, which failed before the famed 1967 "Ice Bowl" game, and Dallas Cowboy coach Tom Landry's famous hat); and plenty of photos of many of the NFL's greats in action over the years, such as Jim Thorpe, Red Grange, Slingin' Sammy Baugh, Don Hutson, Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr, Roger Staubach, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Reggie White. As a bonus, there's a detailed essay about the 11 greatest moments in pro football history (including Super Bowl III, the merging of the NFL and the AFL, the debut of "Monday Night Football" and the appointment of Pete Rozelle as NFL Commissioner in 1960), a chronology of every team ever to play in the NFL and AFL, and a listing of every single Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinee since it opened in 1963. "The Pro Football Hall of Fame 50th Anniversary Book" is a golden volume about pro football's permanent shrine of its greatest players, its greatest coaches, its greatest innovators and its greatest games. Whether you want to start a conversation, solve an argument - or even if you can't make the trip to Canton - this book is a must-have for every football fan.

Stuart Nulman's "Book Banter" segment is a twice-amonth feature on "The Stuph File Program" with Peter Anthony Holder, which now has almost 150,000 listeners per week. You can either listen or download it at www.peteranthonyholder.com , Stitcher.com or subscribe to it on iTunes. Plus you can find it at: www.CyberStationUSA.com , www.KDXradio.com , True Talk Radio, streaming on www.PCJ- Media.com, and over the air at World FM 88.2fm in New Zealand, Media Corp in Singapore and WSTJ, St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Stuart can be reached at bookbanter@hotmail.com . Comment on this article at: www.westendtimes.ca

10 SEPTEMBER 22, 2012 *

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