At the time of writing it’s hard to know how the 2020 NFL season will unfold or – in the worst case – whether it will unfold at all. The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted almost every business on the planet and football is no exception. But football season looms and with it football book season. There seem to be fewer titles than usual this year, which might be pandemic-related, but there are still some interesting books coming over the next few months. Here are five that are particularly notable.

1The Q Factor by Brian Billick and James Dale

A decade after his last book, former Ravens head coach and NFL analyst Brian Billick returns. This time he’s evaluating the QB position. Drafting a QB seems to be about as predictable as a coin flip, so Billick examines the quarterback class of 2018 – Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen. He compares the pre-draft hype with the last two seasons on the field to try and form an understanding of which factors are useful predictors of future performance and which are red herrings.
Published: September 29
Buy the book: Amazon UK

2Football’s Fearless Activists by Mike Freeman

Mike Freeman traces the history of the protest against police brutality and racial injustice that ultimately cost 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick his career. Kaepernick’s decision to take knee during the national anthem, beginning in 2016, continued to resonate into 2020, with people around the world taking a knee to acknowledge the Black Lives Matter movement. Freeman brings in those who joined Kaepernick’s fight, including Eric Reid and Kenny Stills, draws parallels with past protests by athletes and considers how the events of 2020 might have forced the NFL to change.
Published: Sep 15
Full review
Buy the book: Amazon US | Amazon UK

3Love, Zac by Reid Forgrave

This September sees two books published that examine at the heartbreaking consequences of CTE – the brain condition linked to repeated concussions and blows to the head, which causes dementia-like symptoms, mood disorders and personality changes. Though there is a lot that is not known, football players are at high risk and many former NFL players have been found to have the condition, which can only be identified after death. Reid Forgrave’s Love, Zac tells the story of Zac Easter, who took his own life, aged 24, after suffering for years with symptoms of the condition. Worryingly, he did not play football after high school. Also published next month is Vicki Mayk’s Growing Up On the Gridiron, which centres on University of Pennsylvania lineman Owen Thomas, who took his own life at 21 and was also found to have CTE. Both books raise important questions around, at the very least, the age at which children should play full contact football.
Love, Zac published: Sep 8 (US), Oct 1 (UK) | Buy Amazon US | Amazon UK
Love, Zac full review
Growing Up On the Gridiron published: Sep 1 | Buy Amazon US | Amazon UK

Growing Up On the Gridiron full review

4The Dynasty by Jeff Benedict

Journalist, author and TV and film producer Jeff Benedict turns his attention to the New England Patriots in his new book. A lot has been written about the Patriots’ dynasty and Benedict acknowledges that he is not an insider. Can he bring anything new to the topic? Apparently so. Benedict spoke to 250 people for this book and got many big names on the record – Robert Kraft, Tom Brady, Roger Goodell and more. His goal is to answer two questions: how was the dynasty built? And how has it been sustained so long? One other question that might linger over this title: has it been written too soon?
Published: Sep 1 (US), Sep 3 (UK)
Full review
Jeff Benedict interview
Buy the book: Amazon US | Amazon UK

5Chief’s Kingdom by Michael MacCambridge (editor)

For all the stress and disruption of 2020, it’s been quite a year for Michael MacCambridge the sports fan. In February, his beloved Chiefs won their first Super Bowl in a half century and, after some months of pandemic-related delay, the soccer team he supports, Liverpool FC, won the English league title for the first time in 30 years. To mark the Chiefs’ triumph, MacCambridge has edited this book documenting the season. Every Super Bowl winner gets a book about their year – and I don’t normally pay them much attention – but MacCambridge’s skill as a storyteller means this will certainly be worth a look.
Published: October 27
Buy the book: Amazon US | Amazon UK

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