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Posted July 16, 2013
Posted June 25, 2013
"Lombardi's Left Side" is Royce Boyles' third book abo
"Lombardi's Left Side" is Royce Boyles' third book about Vince Lombardi and his legendary Green Bay Packers teams. Lombardi coached the Packers from 1959-67, won five NFL championships in his nine seasons, and established a blueprint for success that went far beyond football. Co-author for the first two books, "The Lombardi Legacy" and "The Lombardi Impact," was Hall of Fame linebacker Dave Robinson. For "Lombardi's Left Side," another NFL Hall of Famer, cornerback Herb Adderley, joins Boyles and Robinson. Robinson and Adderley are African Americans, and in the first two books the subject of civil rights--in particular, Lombardi's color-blindness and fairness toward the black players on his teams--is a recurring theme. But it is not presented as the central theme, which is Lombardi's greatness, established through interviews with the people who knew him. In "Lombardi's Left Side," race moves to the forefront. We meet Adderley and Robinson as teenagers in the 1950s and see what life was like for a young black man in the days before civil rights reform. Both players were smart, dedicated, and lucky enough to have mentors who steered them away from the streets and into athletics. They were drafted by the Packers and met Lombardi, who helped them to attain their full potential as players and as men. I found "Lombardi's Left Side" fascinating because I grew up in Green Bay during the 1960s. I followed the Packers closely, attended many of the games, and knew some of the players. I learned what life was like for an African American coming to the small Wisconsin town where most residents had never known a person of color. Boyles' narrative fills in the gaps in my knowledge and gives me the "before" and the "after." Of particular interest are Adderley's struggles after he left the Packers. He was traded to the Dallas Cowboys, where racism was rampant and Coach Tom Landry was reluctant to accept Lombardi-trained players. More recently, Adderley took on the National Football League Players Association by acting as class representative for 2,062 retired players who sued the union in 2007 over royalties from a video game. Boyles firmly establishes Adderley as a hero.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
The book could have benefited from better editing. There are typos--"Adderley" is frequently rendered as "Adderely." Sometimes Boyles repeats himself, and his narrative voice occasionally wavers between colloquial and Voice of God. But if the writing lacks consistency, it never lacks passion. Despite the minor editing annoyances, I love this book and I'm giving it five stars. "Lombardi's Left Side" is "must" reading for Packer fans, for anyone interested in the civil rights struggles of the mid-twentieth century, and for those who sympathize with the plight of too many retired NFL players today. This is an important book.