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The Best Game Ever : Giants vs. Colts, 1958, and the Birth of the Modern NFL
The remarkable story of the 1958 NFL Championship game between the Colts and the Giants--considered by many to be the greatest football game ever played--from Mark Bowden, bestselling author of Black Hawk Down
On December 28, 1958, the New York Giants and Baltimore Colts met under the lights of Yankee Stadium for that season's NFL championship game. Football, growing in popularity amidst America's post-war economic boom, was still greatly overshadowed by the country's favored pastime, baseball, but the 1958 championship proved to be the turning point for pro football. In The Best Game Ever, Mark Bowden delivers a brilliant narrative on the 1958 NFL Championship game, the story behind the key players in that game, and the effect the contest had on the modern game of football and today's NFL.
The championship, played on a freezing Sunday evening in front of 64,000 fans and millions of television viewers around the country, would go down as the greatest in football's history. On the field and roaming the sidelines were 17 future Hall of Famers, including Colts stars Johnny Unitas, Raymond Berry, and Gino Marchetti and Giants greats Frank Gifford, Sam Huff and assistant coaches Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry. An estimated 45 million viewers--at that time the largest crowd to have ever watched a football game--tuned in to see what would become the first sudden death contest in NFL history. It was a battle of the league's best offense--the Colts--versus its best defense--the Giants. And it was a contest between the blue-collar Baltimore team, many of whom worked off-season jobs selling liquor or insurance or taking shifts at Bethlehem Steel, versus the glamour boys of the Giants squad who often appeared in magazine ads and TV commercials and were seen around town at trendy spots like Toots Shoors mingling with the likes of politicians, Broadway stars, even Ernest Hemingway on occasion.
The Best Game Ever is a brilliant portrait of how a single game changed the history of American sport. Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the championship, it is destined to be a sports classic.
Bowden (Black Hawk Down; Guests of the Ayatollah) tells the story of the 1958 National Football League championship game between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants, a legendary game that proved to be a harbinger of the enormous popularity of pro football over the next 50 years. Bowden writes that the game featured the greatest assemblage of talent ever on one field, including 17 future Hall of Fame inductees. He frames the picture with a wide lens, but then focuses on the roles and lives of a few key players, particularly the Colts' obsessive and methodical wide receiver Raymond Berry and the iconic quarterback Johnny Unitas, as well as the Giants' powerful linebacker Sam Huff. The game, played in frigid Yankee Stadium three days after Christmas, stretched into the evening, garnering the largest television audience in the history of the sport to that time. Bowden begins his entertaining and informative narration in the third quarter, and then delves into backstory on the league, players and the buildup, before returning to the gridiron to conclude with a detailed account of the final plays and an epilogue. (June) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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Atlantic Monthly Press
May 04, 2008
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