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Review of 'Freezing Cold Takes: NFL' and 5 other recent books - Issue 16
So many new great sports books out this summer.
Hello everybody! The newsletter took an inadvertently long summer break the last 6 weeks but back now with a review of Freezing Cold Takes: NFL and 5 other reviews published on the blog over the summer.
Some great new books out and many more excellent ones to come over the rest of the year. As always, feel free to get in touch for recommendations, opinions, review requests or to let me know what sports books you’ve enjoyed. Happy reading!
🏈’Freezing Cold Takes: NFL: Football Media’s Most Inaccurate Predictions—and the Fascinating Stories Behind Them’ by Fred Segal
Since 2015, @OldTakesExposed has chronicled very bad sporting predictions on twitter. It’s a fun account to follow and a reminder that the internet never forgets! This type of twitter page, focused on calling out those with a public profile for their errors, inevitably always flirts with the risk of being overly blunt, and possibly misleading, given the lack of nuance available in 140 characters.
Freezing Cold Takes: NFL allows the man behind the twitter feed, Fred Segal, to take a more in-depth look at some of the more notorious bad takes on the NFL. Segal takes a number of interesting moments in NFL history where the perceived wisdom, or some especially vocal pundits, were spectacularly wrong in their predictions of how a player, coach or team would work out.
The focus of the book is not on pointing and laughing at the foolish pundits but rather an interesting way of reflecting, through pretty extensive research, on what actually happened and why it may not have seemed obvious at the time. Its a different, entertaining way of exploring modern NFL history and also capturing the chance, perseverance and blind faith often involved in creating winning football teams.
There are fourteen Freezing Cold Takes in the book but I particularly liked the chapter on Bill Belichick’s hiring by the Patriots and the extraordinarily negative reaction from pundits. It’s hard to imagine a worse prediction in hindsight yet the logic at the time of doubting him is understandable. But for the stubborn determination of the Kraft family to hire him, the entire modern history of the NFL looks very different.
I’d highly recommend Freezing Cold Takes: NFL for any football fan.
Here are links to five other reviews I’ve posted since the last newsletter:
🏈🏅⚾‘Path Lit by Lightning: The Life of Jim Thorpe’ by David Maraniss.
Master biographer Maraniss has produced the comprehensive biography of the legendary multi-sport athlete. Destined to be a classic. Read my full review here.
⚾‘Sho-Time: The Inside Story of Shohei Ohtani and the Greatest Baseball Season Ever Played’ by Jeff Fletcher
A very enjoyable look at the origins and initial impact Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels, the Japanese player who can bat and pitch at an All-Star level. Read my full review here.
🏈‘Walking Alone: The Untold Journey of Football Pioneer Kenny Washington’ by Dan Taylor
Kenny Washington is most famous for breaking the unofficial colour barrier in the NFL as the first black player to play in the league in 13 years. Walking Alone is a comprehensive and excellent biography shining a light on remarkable talent and the impact Washington had. Read my full review here.
🏈‘Spies on the Sideline: The High Stakes World of NFL Espionage’ by Kevin Bryant
A fascinating book that provides a unique angle on an aspect of professional football that typically goes undiscussed (until the next time the Patriots get caught!). Read my full review here.
⚽‘USA 94: The World Cup that Changed the Game’ by Matthew Evans. An enjoyable, informative and well written nostalgia trip. A real pleasure. Read my full review here.
New Sports Books - What’s out recently or coming out soon?
⚽ An Economist Goes to the Game: How to Throw Away $580 million and Other Surprising Insights from the Economics of Sport by Paul Oyer @pauloyer. An economist's take on sports phenomena such as corruption, ticket scalping, child prodigies, the Olympics, and many others.
Roll Red Roll: Rape, Power, and Football in the American Heartland by Nancy Schwartzman @fancynancynyc. A difficult but important subject, the book will look at an incident where a sixteen year-old girl incapacitated by alcohol was repeatedly assaulted by Steubenville, Ohio high school football stars. Sounds similar to Jon Krakauer's powerful Missoula.
🏐🏅 If Gold is Our Destiny: How a Team of Mavericks Came Together for Olympic Glory by Sean P. Murray. The story of the 1984 Men's US Olympic Volleyball team and their quest for gold at the LA Olympics.
🥊 Joe Louis vs Billy Conn: Boxing's Unforgettable Summer of 1941 by Ed Gruver @EdGruver. One of the most anticipated fights in history that more than lived up the hype and the fascinating men who squared off (15 July). I've read this and it's very good.
⚽ When Two Worlds Collide: The Intercontinental Cup Years by Dan Williamson @winkveron @intlcupyears. Book on the annual match between Europe and South America's champion football teams by the author of the excellent Blue and Gold Passion. Williamson is also writing a bio of Ronaldo (the real one) which is top of my 2023 list!
⚽ The Working Hands of a Goddess: The tactics, community and culture behind Gasperini's Atalanta B.C by Tom Underhill @tomd_underhill. Looking at the creation of one of Europe's most exciting sides, where they and their coach have come from, and where they sit within a city's identity.
🏉 Scrum Queen's: The Story of Women's Rugby by Ali Donnelly
🏃♂️🏅 Catch Me if You Can: Revolutionizing My Sport, Breaking World Records and Creating a Legacy for Tanzania by Filbert Bayi and Myles Schrag. Autobiogrpahy of the middle distance Olympic medalist who was famous for his assertive style in the days before pacemakers.
🚣♀️🎿🏅 The Hard Parts: From Chernobyl to Paralympic Champion - My Story of Achieving the Extraordinary by Oksana Masters @OksanaMasters. Autobiography of a 10 time Paralympic medalist.
⚽ A Woman's Game : The Rise, Fall and Rise Again of Women's Soccer by Suzanne Wrack (26 July)
🏈 The Rise of the Black Quarterback: What it Means for America by Jason Reid @JReidESPN. Building on a series by ESPN's The Undefeated, Reid will delve into the history of black quarterbacks in the NFL. Have read this and it’s great.
🏎️💉 Survival of the Fastest: Weed, Speed, and the 1980s Drug Scandal that Shocked the Sports World by Randy Lanier with A.J. Baime
⚽ Futsal : The Indoor Game That Is Revolutionizing World Soccer by Jamie Fahey. The story of the story of futsal’s politics, tactics and personalities.
⚾ Coming Home: My Amazin' Life with the New York Mets by Cleon Jones. Autobiography from the player who caught the final out of the Miracle Mets’ World Series victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
⚽ Red on Red: Liverpool, United and the Fiercest Rivalry in World Football by Phil McNulty and Jim White (4 August)
🥊 Fighting for Survival: My Journey through Boxing Fame, Abuse, Murder, and Resurrection by Chrissy Martin with Ron Borges. Reviewed this previously. A great, difficult, powerful read.
🏈 Bronko: The Legendary Story of the NFL’s Greatest Two Way Fullback by Chris Willis. Nearly finished this, review coming soon.
⚽ 1999: The Treble and All That by Matt Dickenson @DickensonTimes. The Chief Sports Writer for the Times recalls Manchester United's historic Treble campaign in 99. Hard to believe that was more than 20 years ago!
⚽ Scheisse! We’re Going Up: The Unexpected Rise of Berlin’s Rebel Football Club by Kit Holden. A history of Union Berlin. Have reviewed this and it is absolutely brilliant. A history of the team through told through its' relationships with its fans. A reflection on the power of narratives, community, and the dangers of success.
Thanks for reading. Let me know your thoughts, opinions, any improvements I can make etc. Catch me on Twitter. More books next week!