The NFL Draft is upon us, and it's time to look at some of the greats of the game of football, some inspiring stories, and the meaning of the sport.
The books we will look at here include 12: The Inside Story of Tom Brady's Fight For Redemption by Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge; Son Of Bum: Lessons My Dad Taught Me About Football and Life by Wade Phillips; Spirals: A Family's Education in Football by Timothy B. Spears; and The Warner Boys: Our Family's Story of Autism and Hope by Ana & Curt Warner.
12: The Inside Story of Tom Brady's Fight For Redemption
By Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge
Little, Brown; hardcover, 320 pages; $27.00
This is the thrilling behind-the-scenes account of how the most sensational scandal in NFL history culminated in the greatest comeback in sports history, featuring dozens of exclusive interviews with Patriots players–including Tom Brady himself.
In January 2015, rumors circulated that the New England Patriots, a teamthat had been long suspected of abiding by the “if you ain’t cheating you ain’t trying” philosophy, had used under-inflated footballs in their playoff victory against the Indianapolis Colts.
As evidence began to build, however, a big NFL investigation was launched, exploding an unsubstantiated rumor into an intense scandal that would lead news coverage for weeks. As shockwaves rippled throughout the NFL system, the very legitimacy of one of the league’s most popular teams and their star quarterback began to erode, even as the Patriots and Brady went on to win that year’s Super Bowl over the Seattle Seahawks.
But as the celebrations gave way to the offseason, the investigation only intensified, reopening old wounds between the Patriots’ powerful owner, Robert Kraft, and the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell.
Brady was devastated and seemingly more nervous in front of a judge that on a game-winning drive. When the dust settled, Brady would be able to play again – but only after watching the first four games of the 2016 season from his couch.
Sherman and Wedge write of what also weighed on Brady's mind during the suspension, "The stress of being locked out of Gillette Stadium and being sequestered from his teammates paled in comparison to the growing concern Tom felt at the time for his family. His mother, Galynn, had breast cancer. When she was diagnosed during the summer of 2016, the cancer was at Stage 2, which meant that it was still contained to her breast but was fast growing. Doctors told Galynn and Tom Sr. that the only way to survive was to be as aggressive as the cancer itself. This meant that Tom's mother would have to put her body through five months of painful chemotherapy and radiation. Galynn also underwent two lumpectomies amid a number of surgeries.
"'Hearing about it for the first time that my wife of many years, I could lose her...' Brady Sr. told the NFL Network's Andrea Kremer. 'I'm not ready to lose her.'
Neither was their son. Number 12 had experienced loss before when Dick Rehbein died prior to his sophomore season and ascension to greatness. He'd also lost another mentor, College of San Mateo head coach Tom Martinez, who died on his sixty-sixth birthday in 2012. Martinez had tutored Brady on his throwing mechanics since high school. While quarterbacking the Patriots, Brady reached out to Martinez after every game to discuss and dissect each throw. On occasion, Brady would fly the coach to Boston and spend days with him looking for ways to improve his game...
"Still, no one had greater influence over Brady than his parents, especially Galynn. As Tom Sr. observed, 'He never says Hi Dad [on television]. It's always Hi Mom.'
"Tom and his mother remained close throughout the ordeal although they were coasts apart.
"'We FaceTimed a lot,' Galynn said. 'Losing my hair was tough for me. I'd have my bandana on and he [Tom] would say, 'Oh, Mom, you look so beautiful, so beautiful.'
"It was torture for Brady not to be in California with his mother and not to have both of his parents in the stands for regular-season games upon his return. But number 12 told his mother that she'd be ready and in better health for the Super Bowl. It was both a premonition and a promise. Tom Sr. and Galynn charted out her chemotherapy and saw that the treatments would end two weeks before the championship in Houston, Texas, and their son planned on playing in that game.
"The quarterback absorbed the anguish and pain he felt about his mother's cancer and turned it into fuel for his return to the lineup."
When Brady returned in October 2016, the pressure couldn’t have been more intense as his legacy was at stake. If he failed to return to his usual self, all the critics and even the history books would have to put a giant asterisk next to his name, signifying one thing: he was a cheater.
12 is the story of this gritty comeback of Brady and the Patriots coming back in that 2016 season and going on to win Super Bowl LVI over the Atlanta Falcons. It’s a drama that unfolds in the locker room, the court room, and under the brightest lights in all of sports–the Super Bowl.
This is the first time that readers will have an exclusive look into Tom Brady’s experience and the NFL’s shocking strangle-hold on their players.
With unprecedented access to Brady himself, his teammates, and his lawyers, we will see just how a football legend went up against one of the largest corporations in the world to stage the greatest comeback in NFL history and emerge a god of the gridiron.
Son Of Bum: Lessons My Dad Taught Me About Football and Life
By Wade Phillips, with Vic Carlucci
Diversion Books; hardcover; $25.99
Longtime NFL coach Wade Phillips, who won a Super Bowl as defensive coordinator with the Denver Broncos in 2016 and nearly won another this past February in the same role with the Los Angeles Rams, tells this story of a football life in his memoir Son of Bum.
Phillips shows that the roots of his knowledge come from his father, Bum Phillips. A beloved character in NFL history, Bum taught Wade from the beginning that “coaching isn’t bitching,” as well as how to have perspective on the game during tough times.
These are lessons that apply both on the field and off, and Wade has passed this wisdom down to his son, Wes Phillips, an NFL coach himself.
Known for his homespun, plain-talking ways, Wade is a groundbreaking coach who has long believed in using support and camaraderie—instead of punishment and anger—to inspire his players to be winners on and off the field. And though his defensive concepts are revolutionary, he would say they begin with one very important thing he took away from his father.
"One of the many qualities I admired about my dad, the one I admired most was his great common sense," Phillips writes. "He always seemed to point something out or make a suggestion that would cause everyone around him to say, 'Why didn't I think of that?' His real gift was knowing what things to do and when to do them. I like to think I emulate that.
"A lot of people think coaching is hollering or screaming at somebody. My dad always said - and I've always said this, too - 'Coaching ain't bitching. There's no use bitching about something that's already happened.' That's the way a lot of coached coach. They bitch at guys after the mistake happens, calling them names or whatever, instead of teaching them how to do it right in the first place. The object is to get them to be better players. When you spend more time harping on what they do wrong rather than showing them how to do it right, you aren't coaching. You're just bitching.
"My dad was unlike a lot of coaches in another way: he had no problem with being friends with his players. He believed you shouldn't be afraid to get close to somebody. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, either. Dad was approachable to all his players, and I think that's a big reason why they played hard for him. When players know that you're pulling for them and trying to get them to do their best, that's usually a pretty good combination. I know I'd rather play for somebody I like than somebody I don't like. Common sense, right?"
Son of Bum is a story of family and football and a father who inspired his son that will warm your heart.
Spirals: A Family's Education in Football
By Timothy B. Spears
University of Nebraska Press; hardcover, 184 pages; $24.95
Ivy League football has a grand tradition in Timothy Spears’s family history. Spirals tracks the relationship between college football and higher education through the lens of one family’s involvement in the sport.
Ranging over almost a century of football history, Spears describes the different ways in which his grandfather, father, and he played the game and engaged with its educational dimensions as the sport was passed from father to son.
His grandfather Clarence “Doc” Spears was an All-American guard at Dartmouth in the early twentieth century, played on the Canton Bulldogs with Jim Thorpe, became a College Hall of Fame coach, and, as the legend goes, discovered Bronko Nagurski while driving through the backcountry of Minnesota. His father, Robert Spears, captained Yale’s 1951 team and was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1952.
By the time Timothy went to Yale in the mid‑1970s, it was more than talent or enthusiasm that prompted him to play football there.
This intergenerational history attempts to uncover what the males in Spears’s family learned from playing football and how the game’s educational importance shifted over time within higher education.
While Spears chose an academic life after college, he understood later, with the decline of his parents, how much football stayed with him and shaped his family’s history. With a voice that is part memoirist, part scholar, part athlete, as well as father and son, Spears discerns how football is embedded in our culture and came to be the fabric and common language of his family.
The Warner Boys: Our Family's Story of Autism and Hope
By Ana & Curt Warner, with Dave Boling
Little A; hardcover, $24.95; eBook, $5.99
The Warner Boys is an emotional, revealing memoir of one family’s life in seclusion, and the love, strength, and faith it took to save it.
Seahawks star running back Curt Warner and his wife, Ana, were
prominent figures in Seattle in the early 1990s. When they dropped from the public eye after Curt’s retirement, everyone assumed it was for a simpler life. But the reality behind their seclusion was a secret they hid from even their closest friends: their twins, Austin and Christian, had been diagnosed with severe autism.
What followed was a painful struggle to hold their family and their marriage together in a home filled with chaos, emotional exhaustion, and constant fear for the safety of their unpredictable but beloved boys.
Ana Warner has dedicated her life to the care of her family and the study and treatment of autism spectrum disorder. She and her husband have served as keynote speakers at the National Autism Conference at Penn State and the Texas Autism Conference in San Antonio.
Now, after years of silence, the Warners share their inspiring journey from stardom and success to heartbreaking self-imposed isolation.
Above all, this is a story of the life-changing truth that love for family and each other, no matter how much it's challenged, is the path to healing and peace.
Curt and Ana Warner said of what inspired them to write this book, "Our dear friend and pastor, the late Ken Hutcherson, told us many years ago that we should write a book about our journey. At the time I just laughed because we were so busy and life was so crazy that we couldn't even think about writing a book. We were living in 'survival mode' and were taking one day at a time. When puberty was over for the boys and they were older, things around the house got a little better. In 2013, we were invited to speak at an Autism Conference at Penn State. We put together an outline for the conference. Everything went smooth at the conference and we were amazed at the positive response we got from the audience. Curt thought that maybe it was time to start thinking about writing a book. He contacted Gary Wright, an old friend who was an executive with the Seahawks and told him that he was thinking about writing a book but we needed help telling our story. Gary told him about author Dave Boling, and we started our project in 2015."
Boling in an award-winning sports columnist and former reporter for the Tacoma News Tribune. He is the author of two novels, Guernica and The Lost History of Stars.
The Warner Boys is the true story of a family who fought for their children and how they grew stronger against all odds.