Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Few Seconds of Panic Review

While killing some time browsing on I came across a review I wrote a couple of years back for Stefan Fatsis' A Few Seconds of Panic.  If you're looking for some good winter reading, especially now that football season is in full swing, I highly recommend it (especially to Broncos/Redskins fans - lots on Mike Shanahan):

"I enjoyed this book. It was a quick read, and as the 2008 NFL season is winding down, it provided an interesting look at a team that year in and year out is in the thick of the playoff race - the Denver Broncos. Fatsis does a great job touching on a number of different subjects including kicker subculture, coaching approaches to game preparation and roster cuts, the NFL as a bureaucracy, and players who go largely unnoticed from city to city, filling in for injured players and making the league minimum's salary on various practice squads. As a football fan, gaining a better understanding of the off-season, training camp, and the preseason from someone almost entirely on the inside was well worth the time on this page-turner. 

The book is a lot about the mechanics and psychology behind kicking, and as an often-overlooked part of football, that's fine. But while Fatsis seemed to assimilate well with Denver's coaching staff, kickers, Quarterbacks, and a handful of other various position players, much of the book focuses on players toward the bottom of the depth chart who don't even make the 53-man roster. His book relied too heavily on a small group of players, leaving me feeling like there were many other personalities and stories that he either left out or did not have access to despite his presence being casually accepted by the majority of the Broncos organization.

This is a story of a 43-year old who becomes a member of a professional team as an experiment, and much credit to Mr. Fatsis for pulling that off in a league that is incredibly controlling of its media exposure. But it is also a story largely about the journeymen of the NFL, as Fatsis tries to uncover why these players, many of whom are injured, neglected by the coaching staff, or unlikely to ever find a steady job playing professional football, still show up to fight for roster spots. I would have liked to see more about the players with more job security (non-kickers) and gotten more of a glimpse into the preparation they go through year after year and what their impressions of the game, league, and team were.

Definitely a great piece of writing and Fatsis' story in this book is just as interesting as that of any of the players."  

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