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|Sunday Morning Quarterback
Going Deep on the Strategies, Myths & Mayhem of Football
By Phil Simms, Vic Carucci
HC, 224 pages, US$24.95
Simms on football
By Steven Martinovich
There is a complexity to the game of football that many of even the most dedicated fans are unaware of. Where most see throwing, running and collisions, the most knowledgeable realize that it can decades to understand the nuances of football. Even those who play the game at its highest levels often miss the finer details.
That included Super Bowl winning retired New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms who admits in Sunday Morning Quarterback: Going Deep on the Strategies, Myths & Mayhem of Football that even those who play the game professionally never stop learning about its intricacies. It wasn't until his sixth season in the pros that Simms began to look deeper into the game and was surprised how much he had yet to learn.
"A typical question fans have is, 'Is the game as complicated as everyone says it is?' My standard answer is, 'No, it's not. It's much, much more complicated than that.'"
Since joining CBS Sports as a football analyst, Simms has spent much of his on-air time trying to explain the game to viewers and making a name for himself as someone who can break down complicated elements into easily digestible nuggets. Sunday Morning Quarterback is partly a stroll down memory lane but Simms also uses the book to offer an amazing amount of insights from explaining how and why teams win turnover battles to why statistics are often misleading. Think you know a lot about the West Coast offense? Simms would respond, "Which West Coast offense?"
Given that it's written from an ex-quarterback's perspective, it shouldn't be too surprising that much of Sunday Morning Quarterback deals with quarterbacks. In extensive detail Simms describes the challenges that a quarterback faces each time he gets the ball from the center. Before each game a quarterback might have to learn countless variations of dozens of plays and be able to implement one of them in a few seconds during a game. During each play, while they are hunted by hulking defenses, quarterbacks must process an incredible amount of information and make snap judgments based on intuition, experience and training. All the glory may go to the quarterback, but so does all of the catcalls when things go wrong.
Simms' look back at his own career -- which hopefully he'll one day address with a book solely on the subject -- is no less interesting. Given some the characters he played with, including Lawrence Taylor, it's not surprising that he has some interesting stories to tell. He recounts what it was like playing for Bill Parcells -- who rates an entire chapter, the player he most disliked playing against and the difficulties of being the on field leader of your football team while also being friends with them. Simms also addresses why he never went into coaching, the difference between good and great players and what it's like watching his son Christopher play in the NFL. Although the book was written along with NFL.com editor Vic Carucci, you can only hear Simms' voice on the page.
Sunday Morning Quarterback isn't without its eyebrow-raising statements either. Simms argues that the days of the running quarterback -- embodied by Michael Vick of the Atlanta Falcons -- will eventually come to an end as defenses adapt to the new style. Quarterbacks will still run, anything that gives you an advantage will be utilized, but Simms believes in the near future they will be trained to run mostly when a play breaks down. Simms believes that moving inside the pocket generally creates more opportunities to pick up yards by giving receivers time to get open then with a quarterback running with the ball.
Unlike many books written by former players, Sunday Morning Quarterback is an engaging look at Simms' memories and his insights into how the game is played. The sections busting commonly held myths is alone worth the price of the book. Simms has translated well his experience both in playing the game and explaining it every week on television to viewers into a compelling book on a game that only becomes more interesting the more you learn about it. He may have no desire to go into the coaching ranks but it's clear that Simms is quite capable of teaching the game should he ever decide to do so.
Steven Martinovich is a freelance writer in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.
Buy Sunday Morning Quarterback: Going Deep on the Strategies, Myths & Mayhem of Football at Amazon.com for only $16.47 (34% off)
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