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Next Man Up: A Year Behind the Lines in Today's NFL (Anglais) Broché – 2 novembre 2006

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Présentation de l'éditeur

Despite - or perhaps because of - its immense popularity, the NFL remains one of the most secretive sports societies in America. John Feinstein goes behind the scenes of this closed sport as he takes his readers through an NFL season - all the ups and downs, the procession from 100 degree heat in training camp to frigid cold in January and the week-to-week pressures faced by the coaches and players - in an illuminating and entertaining look at the most lucrative sport in America.
NEXT MAN UP highlights the Baltimore Ravens, one of the most watched and dramatic NFL teams in recent years. Like many teams, the Ravens have faced extreme obstacles - in their case, players in prison, under indictment, and injured - but they’ve still managed to play at an extremely high level, winning their first Super Bowl in 2001 against the New York Giants. From the first strategy sessions of a new season to the last down of the final game, John Feinstein reveals the intensity, spirituality, and the near life-or-death drama of professional football as it’s never been revealed before.

Biographie de l'auteur

John Feinstein is the bestselling author of non-fiction sports books such as A Good Walk Spoiled and two novels. He writes for Inside Sports, Golf, Tennis Magazine and Basketball America and is a commentator on NPR and CBS.

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FROM A DISTANCE, it looked like any other football Monday in Owings Mills, Maryland. Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 57 commentaires
25 internautes sur 29 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
How Can 500 Pages Have So Little Detail? 30 novembre 2005
Par John J. Stahl - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
I was anxiously looking forward to this book as I have always been curious about what goes on with an NFL team away from the cameras. Unfortunately, this book came up way short of my expectations. I learned a lot about the Baltimore Ravens, but not much about the NFL. Any fan of the Ravens should steer clear because there is little in this book that they won't already know if they follow the team. There were a few exceptions, but for the most part this book gives no more detail than you would find if you followed the team through the local papers throughout the year.

A true look "behind the lines" would go into far greater depth about what life is like during the week. We often hear about players who come in early and stay late, but what does that mean? What happens during the film sessions? How do the coaches formulate a game plan? How is the game plan presented to the players? If players are at the complex all day Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, what is happening? Surely they aren't on the practice field that whole time. Are they in meetings? In the weight room? Working on individual techniques with position coaches? Studying film?

A classic example of a missed opportunity was Feinstein's discussion (p. 182) of the injury to starting center Mike Flynn and how the loss would affect the offensive line because, among other things, "it is the center who makes all the calls for the linemen, which makes him the quarterback of the group". Well, we often hear announcers talk about centers making calls on blocking assignments but none ever explains what that means. Here was a perfect opportunity to take a few sentences to clarify this concept. What are the calls? What do they mean? How do the other linemen hear them in the midst of the quarterback's signals? What happens with the line calls if the QB calls an audible? Feinstein offers nothing.

On the positive side, the description of the so-called "clothes Nazis" employed by the league was humorous but informative. The closest thing we got to a real inside look at things was the discussions among the coaches, staff and front office surrounding the decisions being made on the final cuts before the start of the season. The conflict between the coordinators and the special teams coaches over keeping players who are strictly special teamers versus those who can also play a position on offense or defense was especially interesting.

On the whole, I'd look elsewhere if you really want to know what goes on behind the scenes in the NFL
20 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
An inside look into the 2004 Baltimore Ravens - more on the personality of the people than the intricacies of the game. 2 novembre 2005
Par King Yao - Publié sur
Format: Relié
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.

To top it off, 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!
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Feinstein's a better talker than writer 4 mars 2006
Par brazos49 - Publié sur
Format: Relié
I've been disappointed by John Feinstein's writing before - I thought his season with Bob Knight failed to produce a high quality book. I'm disappointed again with this book. What should have been a great opportunity for an author to take a reader behind the scenes with a pro football team was squandered by this mediocre writing effort. I hear Feinstein on sports radio regularly and find him engaging and sharp, so I expect his writing to be good. But, it's not that great. I don't know whether he lacks the writing talent or fails to invest the effort required to do outstanding work. Regardless, he doesn't really deliver the goods in this book. It's long and tiresome in spite of the fact that the material seems to be interesting.

I hope that future writing opportunities like this one are directed to better or more motivated writers. Unless you're a diehard Ravens fan, you can skip this one.
60 internautes sur 78 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A disappointing book.... 31 octobre 2005
Par WebViking - Publié sur
Format: Relié
This is the first Feinstein book I've read, although I have heard a lot about his past books. I am also a fairly knowledgeable football fan (not particularly a Raven fan, though), and in a large part because of that, I found this book to be shallow, superficial and trivial. For someone that is not a fan of the most heavily covered sport in the world Feinstein's tedious tome may be readable and illuminating. But I found this book to contain very little that a knowledgeable fan wouldn't know about, or couldn't find from other sources.

In any sucessful work of non-fiction, the author needs to distill the essence of real life people into the pages of a book. Feinstein does this by providing endless and monotonous, thumbnail biographies of all the characters that he runs into in his year with the Ravens. "So and so grew up in the Deep South/Inner City/Midwest/So-Cali, his father was a firefighter/Coast Guardsmen/Test Pilot, and from the time he could tie his shoes he wanted to play football." There are literaly endless pages of this drivel. A football team consists of 53 players on the active roster, which is down from 85 or so in pre-season training camps, the coaching, scouting and training staffs combined are 30 to 40 people and it seems like Feinstein has a 2 page mini-biography on each and every one of these people. After awhile you cringe when Feinstein's monlogue shifts to a player he hasn't said much about previously, because you just know he's going to roll into another little biography filled with trivial details about what the player's parents did, how many siblings he had, when he started playing football, what his SAT scores were, what he did in high school, where he went to college, how he got into the NFL, and on and on and on.

There is very little in this book in the way of technical details. Things like how game plans are developed, how adjustments are made during the game, how practices are structured, and the intense preparation during the week for upcoming games. Feinstein, to his credit did focus a fair amount of effort, on how personnel decisions are made. But this is one of the most compelling issues on any football team, and Feinstein's coverage of it just left me wanting more, it just wasn't detailed enough. For example, the Ravens lose their punter for three games in the middle of the season, they bring in 10 players for a mid-season tryout. Feinstein launches into a 2 page biography of the guy that wins the tryout, but doesn't talk about any of the others, what the tryout was like, how the decision was made to pick the one guy, what the details of his contract were, what issues he had trying to fit in with the rest of the team. But thanks to Feinstein, I now know what the guy's parents did, where he went to college and which NFL team first signed him and how many teams he's been cut from. Also at the end of the season no effort is made by the Ravens to re-sign some of their best defensive players, notably Ed Hartwell and Gary Baxter, yet they re-negotiated Chris McAllister's contract during the season, why? We don't know, I get the impression Feinstein probably doesn't either.

The title of the book, Next Man Up, refers to the injury rate in the NFL which is extreme, virtually everyone gets hurt. But Feinstein goes in to very little detail about how teams and the players deal with it. The Ravens Pro-Bowl Left Offensive Tackle, Jonathon Ogden, gets hurt and has to be replaced for several games. Feinstein mentions this, but there was so much more he could have done. How did Ogden get hurt? What did he have to do to heal? How did the other members of the offensive line deal with his absence in practice? In games? How did the Ravens game plan change? How sucessful, ultimately, were the Ravens in replacing the cornerstone of their line over those games?

There is so much more that Feinstein could have covered in this book. He had virtually nothing about the player/agent/team triangle and how contracts werer negotiated. Nothing on the logistics of an NFL team traveling to play a road game. He mentioned that the Ravens chartered a train to go to Philly and New York. Really? What was that like? I don't know, Feinstein just mentioned it. What was the air travel like? What kind of hotels did the team stay in? What was it like? How did the players/coaches/staff deal with the travel? What do players do on the road? He talked a little about the pre-game meeting with the networks and the weekly media conference calls with the opponent's media, but other than that had very little to say about the relationship between the players, media and team. NFL teams also put tremendous pressure on their players to do charitable work in the community, no discussion of that at all. Brian Billick, the head coach of the Ravens, has a reputation as an innovator, especially with the use of computers. How does he use them? Are playbooks now all oncomputers? Do players carry around laptops rather than binders? If you are interested in stuff like that, you will still be clueless after reading Feinstein's book.

Rather than an true inside look at a football team, Feinstein's book reads more like the team's yearly media guide, notable more for it's endless biographies of the players and staff than any illuminating details of the team. Sadly a disappointing book.
9 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Good Book, but you will have to read between the lines 19 décembre 2005
Par Michael Marr - Publié sur
Format: Relié
This is a good book if you are interested in how the Ravens transformed themselves from one of the most feared team's in the NFL to a laughingstock in two short seasons.

As stated by other reviewers, the author made many mistakes. (My favorite was refering to the current Maryland Speaker of the House Michael Busch as residing in Western Maryland -- the home of former Speaker of the House Cas Taylor.)

The mistake underscores the author's constant misapplication of political subthemes to a book that was supposedly written about football. On a related matter, the author's cheap shots at people like Michael Powell were just plain petty and showed that he was more interested in criticizing individuals who had nothing to do with the management of the football team than he was in criticizing the people who were the subject of the book.

On the football front, the author reveals his own unfortunate bias to the team's head coach -- clearly showing that the author felt an allegiance to the coach for the unprecendented access he provided to him. However, as the 2004 and 2005 seasons have played themselves out, the inherent incompetence of the coach has come to the forefront for even casual observers of the game.

The good news is that Mr. Feinstein's "Walter Duranty" style of journalism -- trading access for objectivity -- is as transparent as can be, and a knowledgeable football fan can read this book to learn the root causes of the team's ongoing woes.

The book lays bare the undisciplined nature of Coach Billick's coaching style, along with the lack of coherence between the team's offensive unit and defensive unit. And it also quotes an actual conversation that Billick had with an offensive coach advocating against any competition at the QB position because he was worried about the fragile psyche of the supposed "tough kid" he had anointed as the team's starting QB fresh out of college.

A good book, but not for the reasons the author and the man who granted him access intended.
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