There are few times when a man can look back and say truthfully:
"I won that game. Without me we would have lost."
- Herb Adderley, Defensive Back, Green Bay Packers
The Football Game I'll Never Forget is a collection of fascinating, firsthand accounts from the 1950s through to the 1990s.
Selected from columns in Football Digest, these stories are told by stars from every position on the field and by coaches along the sidelines. Many of the entries are by current (or future) Hall of Fame players from John Elway to Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch, representing the best players of their generation.
The Football Game I'll Never Forget features one hundred personal accounts by such NFL legends as:
The Football Game I'll Never Forget is an ideal book for football fans of all ages.
Chris McDonell is the author of many books about sports and hockey including For the Love of Hockey, Hockey All-Stars, Hockey's Greatest Stars and The Game I'll Never Forget.
We hold our breath as the defensive back and wide receiver vault into the air with outstretched arms. Time freezes when the quarterback ducks beneath the arms of an onrushing lineman. Will it be a sack or a successful scramble?
The kicker, with a mighty sweep of his foot, sends the ball toward the uprights as the clock runs out. The running back makes a sharp cut toward the end zone, as the linebacker reaches out to make the tackle. A precious few seconds or inches can make all the difference between winning and losing.
But no matter the outcome, the emotional highs and lows are what draw us to watch, to care. These stories bring out those same feelings. Reading them, we're pulled out of the stands, or off the couch, and onto the field. The accounts in The Football Game I'll Never Forget come directly from the players and coaches themselves, and in their own words.
Professional football has evolved into a tightly structured, highly specialized game. The two-way player is dead, as old-fashioned a concept as the leather helmet. The 300-pound lineman is now the norm, as is the 15-member coaching staff. Yet in most ways, football remains today as it was 70 years ago, when the National Football League began to tweak old college rules for a more entertaining match. The rise of the specialist player hasn't diminished the purpose of football. He still needs to move the ball over the goal line, and prevent his opponent from doing likewise.
So when the editors of Football Digest gather stories for their monthly feature, "The Game I'll Never Forget," it doesn't matter whether they get a narrative from a veteran Hall of Famer like "Crazylegs" Hirsch or a current star's recounting of last season's Super Bowl. The players all speak the same language: football. And in this book, a pleasing mix of players from across the generations offers much to appeal to fans of every age.
Game stories are told from the perspective of every position on the field, as well as from the sideline vantage point, thanks to handful of successful coaches, such as Don Shula. Quarterbacks -- such as John Elway, Joe Namath and Roger Staubach -- dominate on these pages, as they do on the playing field; but not at the expense of others. Wide receivers, such as Steve Largent and Charle Joiner; running backs, such as Earl Campbell and Tony Dorsett; and kickers, such as Mark Mosely and Nick Lowery, also find the spotlight here.
There are plenty of voices from the defense as well. Safeties, among them Ken Houston; tackles like Merlin Olsen; and defensive ends, such as Jack Youngblood, share their most memorable stories. Also included are guards like Mike Munchak, linebackers like Dave Wilcox, tight ends, defensive backs, halfbacks and fullbacks... and the roster is complete.
What kind of game stands out in a player's outstanding career? Not surprisingly, championship games and Super Bowls are chosen by many. Reaching the top is a sweet reward that makes all the years of sweat, pain and endless practice feel meaningful and worthwhile. Likewise, defeat at the pinnacle of success can sting with a lasting venom. As unsavory as it can be to rehash profound disappointment, some of the men in these pages choose to discuss a momentous loss -- revealing particular honesty and strength of character.
Lighter moments also abound. "Hacksaw" Reynolds and John Matuszak were almost as notorious for their antics off the field as on. Don Meredith recalls a game when his Dallas Cowboys played the Detroit Lions; how and why Meredith does not get on the field for the whole game is as humble -- and hilarious -- a tale as you're likely to hear from anyone involved in pro sports.
Sometimes it can be a seminal moment that stands out. Gale Sayers, the legendary Chicago Bears running back, reflects on the importance of a great personal effort during a seesaw battle against Minnesota in his rookie season. Jan Stenerud, the first pure placekicker to enter the Hall of Fame, vividly recalls his first professional game, an exhibition-season blowout for Kansas City.
Stenerud is not alone in defining as a personal highlight a game that has faded -- for the rest of us -- into the darker recesses of memory. Alongside the dozens of famous games recalled in this book are others that are delightfully obscure.
This collection of stories will refresh old memories and create new ones, quicken the pulse, and remind us why we've always loved the game. Enjoy.