NFL Books

Looking for a great football read this summer? Our resident bibliophile Chris Wesseling gives us his 10 football books to put on your summer reading list.

Finding the Winning Edge, Bill Walsh, 1997

Good luck finding a copy of Bill Walsh’s definitive coaching textbook for less than $200. In fact, there are leather-bound, signed editions that fetch more than $1,000. Walk into the office of an NFL coach or front-office executive, and there is a good chance you will spot a well-worn copy with more highlights than white space. Of the 36,000 copies sold in 1997, a hefty percentage have found their way to the desks of grade scho...

A Thinking Man’s Guide to Pro Football, Paul Zimmerman, 1970 and 1984

Known to Sports Illustrated’s readers as “Dr. Z,” Zimmerman was the first NFL writer to routinely incorporate game-film analysis into his articles. A former offensive lineman at Stanford and Columbia, Zimmerman went on to play minor league football in the early 1960s. After his writing career was cut short by a series of strokes in 2008, the Pro Football Writer’s Association instituted the Paul “Dr. Z...

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Ben Fountain, 2012

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, Ben Fountain’s debut novel is a penetrating microcosm of George W. Bush’s Texas and an increasingly disillusioned Pat Tillman’s America during the Iraq and Afghanistan war era. Fountain unfurls fluid prose, biting metaphors, pitch-perfect ear for dialogue and uncanny powers of observation into an uproarious, razor-sharp satire of “the sheltering wom...

America’s Game, The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured a Nation, Michael MacCambridge, 2005

Forbes recently valued the Dallas Cowboys franchise at $4 billion. How did the NFL evolve from a “localized sport based on gate receipts and played by oversized coal miners and West Texas psychopaths” to eclipse all other sports — specifically baseball — and become America’s game? That’s the theme of MacCambridge’s tome, which succeeds as the definitive history of the National Football League...

A Fan’s Notes, Frederick Exley, 1968

Four decades before it became customary to Google oneself, Fred Exley lamented, “It was my destiny — unlike that of my father, whose fate it was to hear the roar of the crowd — to sit in the stands with most men and acclaim others. It was my fate, my destiny, my end, to be a fan.” Professional sports are the ultimate domain of the insider. Fame, fortune and popularity beyond the wildest dreams await the suprem...