Published in the mid-2000s, this lavish coffee table book combines amazing photography with writing from some of Sports Illustrated’s biggest names. Paul Zimmerman dominates, with no fewer than seven entries, but there’s still room for Dan Jenkins, Rick Telander, Peter King and numerous others. The big names are present in the photography too, with plenty of shots from magazine legends Neil Leifer and Walter Iooss Jr.
Even if those names don’t mean anything, there are plenty of familiar football milestones here. Fitting its magazine origins, the book focuses on stories, rather than timelines. Sure, there’s a kind of appendix that summarises each decade of the NFL and lists of top 25 players and coaches are scattered through the book, but most of the book is taken up with features on players, games and notable events.
There are stories on John Elway, Joe Montana, Don Hutson, and many more. With no particular continuity to the layout, it’s ideal for leafing through, stopping whenever something grabs your attention. That’s exactly as a coffee table book should be.
An “Expanded Edition” was published in 2009, containing an extra 30 pages of stories and photographs.
Title: The Sports Illustrated Football Book
Editor: Rob Fleder
First published: SI Books, 2005
Buy the Book: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Interview: Rob Fleder
Review: NFL 100
In 20 years with Time Inc, Rob Fleder was executive editor of Sports Illustrated and editor of SI Books. As well as The Sports Illustrated Football Book, he also edited The Sports Illustrated Baseball Book, SI 50: The Anniversary Book, and NFL 100, the NFL’s official centenary book.