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Professional football today is an $8 billion sports entertainment industry-and the most popular spectator sport in America, with designs on expansion across the globe. In this astute field-level view of the National Football League since 1960, Michael Oriard looks closely at the development of the sport and at the image of the NFL and its unique place in American life. New to the paperback edition is Oriard's analysis of the offseason labor negotiations and their potential effects on the future of the sport, and his account of how the NFL is dealing with the latest research on concussions and head injuries.
[Oriard] is scarcely the first former player to write about the game—Jerry Kramer's Instant Replay (1968), published while its author was still a member of the Green Bay Packers, remains to this day the best book about football qua football—but the combination of his playing experience and his deep knowledge of the league's inner business workings makes for a unique and useful point of view. Much of the material in the first two-thirds of the book will be familiar to readers of Michael MacCambridge's America's Game (2004), the best history of pro football to date, but his discussion of what can fairly be called the game's larger meaning is especially interesting and insightful.
—The Washington Post
The National Football League is more than a collection of well-sculpted athletes; it is a business colossus that has mastered marketing and features media- savvy players, and owners who have taken full advantage of corporate sponsorship. Oriard, a former NFL offensive lineman in the 1970s and now a university professor, examines how the NFL became a business titan, examining the effects of such landmark events as the 1960 hiring of NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle and how the 1993 labor agreement between the players and owners made the league's economic structure more stable and thus much more lucrative. Oriard sometimes gets off track in detailing the league's rise to iconic status, but even his diversions on the players' struggles with owners and how racial stereotyping (even when black quarterbacks are no longer an anomaly) still colors the game are enlightening and well researched. With his casual humor and refreshing lack of academic-speak, Oriard has fashioned a riveting examination of how a violent sport has become a staggering mainstream American success. (Sept.)
Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
This erudite study of the financial and cultural behemoth that is the NFL is worthy of a doctoral dissertation, something Oriard already has under his belt as a professor of American literature at Oregon State University. As he was a "gridiron gladiator" for the Kansas City Chiefs, his obvious passion and in-depth knowledge of all facets of this now-dominant sport come as no surprise. The resulting analysis is detailed, compelling, and strangely fascinating as the author succeeds in explaining in commonplace language the complex machinations of the game's owners, coaches, and players, notably on the labor front, without neglecting the pervasive role played by television, the emerging racial fault lines of professional football, the headline-grabbing thuggish and aberrant behavior of many players, the cultural hyperbole and media saturation associated with the Super Bowl, and the outrageous financial costs borne by taxpayers, including the millions of non-fans-but excluding the owners-to permit the ongoing expansion of this paradoxical half-socialist/half-capitalist enterprise. This book's signal contribution to our understanding of leisure, culture, and sport in America makes it highly recommended.
From the Publisher
"Many books have been written about the NFL but, quite simply, Brand NFL is the best."—Florida Historical Quarterly
"Provides an excellent history of the NFL. . . . Sophisticated and accessible. . . . Especially appropriate for undergraduate and non-scholarly readers."—American Studies
"A fascinating journey from the 1969 beginning of Pete Rozelle's reign and his revolutionary idea of revenue sharing to the 2007 hiring of Roger Goddell and the failure to persuade cable providers to carry the league's network as a part of their basic packages."—Aethlon
"An excellent addition to the literature on sport. . . . Recommended."—CHOICE
"Oriard is probably the only person who could have written this book, a dense, comprehensive history of the National Football League's growth from a second-rate sport to the colossus it is now."—Montreal Gazette
"[A] thoughtful, informative overview. . . . Oriard wonders whether the NFL may have gained the whole world but lost, or at least compromised, its soul. . . . The combination of [Oriard's] playing experience and his deep knowledge of the league's inner bu
"Detailed, compelling, and strangely fascinating. . . . This book's signal contribution to our understanding of leisure, culture, and sport in America makes it highly recommended."—Library Journal, starred review
"Enlightening and well researched. With his casual humor and refreshing lack of academic-speak, Oriard has fashioned a riveting examination of how a violent sport has become a staggering mainstream American success."—Publishers Weekly
"Brand NFL explains how [Oriard's] old sport transformed within four decades from 'rinky-dink sideshow,' baseball's thuggish kid brother, into arguably America's favorite entertainment."—Financial Times
"Oriard speaks about football from a unique perspective: an academic who has plied his trade in the trenches. His new book, Brand NFL tackles the game's racial politics, labor disputes, and big-bucks marketing campaigns with candor and pungent crit
Michael Oriard, a former professional football player, is Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Culture and Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Oregon State University. He is author of several books on football, most recently, Bowled Over: Big-Time College Football from the Sixties to the BCS Era.