A major new book from #1 New York Times bestseller and sports-writing legend John Feinstein, QUARTERBACK dives deep into the most coveted and hallowed position in the NFL – exploring the stories of five top quarterbacks and taking readers inside their unique experiences of playing the position and holding the keys to their multi-billion-dollar teams.
In the mighty National Football League, one player becomes the face of a franchise, one player receives all the accolades and all the blame, and one player’s hand will guide the rise or fall of an entire team’s season – and the dreams of millions of fans. There are thirty-two starting quarterbacks in the NFL on any given Sunday, and their lives are built around pressure, stardom, and incredible talent. Legendary bestselling sportswriter John Feinstein, in his most insightful book yet, shows readers what it’s really like to play the glory position and to live that life – mapping out a journey that runs from college stardom to the NFL draft to taking command of the huddle and marching a team down the field with a nation of fans cheering.
Feinstein builds his profile around five NFL starting quarterbacks – Alex Smith, Andrew Luck, Joe Flacco, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Doug Williams. With incredible inside access, we get the full quarterback experience…being drafted #1 overall, pushing through grueling injuries, winning Super Bowls, being named a starter on multiple teams, being the first African American QB to lead a franchise to a title. Feinstein shows us exactly what it’s like in the locker room, huddle, heat of battle, and press conferences, through spectacular moments and embarrassing defeats. He explores the controversies of a league embroiled in questions of substance abuse and racism, TV revenue, corporate greed, and the value placed on player health. And in the end, Feinstein addresses the ways in which each quarterback – some just a year out of college — is handed the keys to a franchise worth billions of dollars, and how each team’s fortunes ride directly on the shoulders of its QB. This is Feinstein’s most fascinating behind-the-scenes book.
Potentially Sensitive Areas: None
Booklist starred (October 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 4))
Being a starting quarterback in the NFL is arguably the most challenging position in all of professional sports; too much credit for wins, too much blame for losses. In this exploration of what it means to be an NFL quarterback today, Feinstein, New York Times best-selling author of A Good Walk Spoiled (1995) and numerous other in-depth analyses of various sports, focuses on five current or former quarterbacks: Alex Smith, Andrew Luck, Joe Flacco, Doug Williams, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. The five have had very different careers, but, taken together in Feinstein’s telling, they reveal much about the game and the position of quarterback. Smith was a number-one overall draft pick and has had a solid career. Fitzpatrick, a Harvard grad, was almost the last pick in the same draft and has been a journeyman, playing for seven teams since 2006. Flacco won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens, and Williams overcame a long-held prejudice against African American quarterbacks to become a Super Bowl MVP. Fitzpatrick’s career, thought the least distinguished, may be the most interesting. He’s been a successful starter, but he also went three seasons without ever getting into a game. As Feinstein relates the five careers, he also touches on the larger, league-wide issues of player health, substance abuse, racism, and, of course, team management, both good and bad. Another must-read from a master of long-form sports journalism.
Kirkus Reviews (November 15, 2018)
A QB–centric look at how football works, on and off the field.Quarterbacks are vital to any gridiron contest. You know that, writes sports journalist and commentator Feinstein (The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup, 2017, etc.), “because there are two people the media must listen to after a game: the head coach and the quarterback.” Quarterbacks usually take their time giving the media their piece of the story, but in the author’s opening vignette, Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco is quick to get to the microphones following a charged division game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in October 2017. Asked to explain the Ravens’ loss, Flacco said, “I sucked. We sucked as an offense, and I’m the quarterback, so I’m responsible. It’s pretty simple.” Well, yes and no: Some of the QBs Feinstein mentions in this leisurely stroll down the field are a little less quick to fall on their swords, while others are exemplary in many ways. One of the author’s chief subjects, for instance, is Doug Williams, a rarity in his day, the first African-American quarterback to bring home the Super Bowl; if racism figured in the 1970s, it certainly hasn’t gone away in the decades since. Neither has the tendency of some clubs to treat players as cogs in the big moneymaking machine, as with Ryan Fitzpatrick, asked to take a pay cut following a career-best throwing season for the Buffalo Bills, then axed for failures not of his own making—save that he was the captain on the field. “When things go well, everyone loves you,” he tells Feinstein. “When they don’t, people fall out of love in a hurry.” The author ably gets to the heart of the game, and if little of what he writes will come as news to discerning fans, there are some fine set pieces featuring battle-weary players and devious front-office types. A worthy offering for fans of the modern, increasingly embattled game.
About the Author
John Feinstein is the author of more than thirty books, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers A Season on the Brink and A Good Walk Spoiled. He is also the author of numerous kids mysteries. His first young adult mystery, Last Shot, won the Edgar Allen Poe Award. John also works for The Washington Post, The Golf Channel, Sirius XM Radio, and Comcast Sportsnet.
Her website is jfeinsteinbooks.com.
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