The Washington Post
A Few Seconds of Panic: A 5-Foot-8, 170-Pound, 43-Year-Old Sportswriter Plays In The NFLby Stefan Fatsis
In Word Freak, Stefan Fatsis infiltrated the insular world of competitive Scrabble players, ultimately achieving expert status (comparable to a grandmaster ranking in chess). Now he infiltrates a strikingly different subculture—pro football. After more than a year spent working out with a strength coach and polishing his craft with a gurulike kicking coach, Fatsis molded his fortyish body into one that could stand up—barely—to the rigors of NFL training. And over three months in 2006, he became a Denver Bronco. He trained with the team and lived with the players. He was given a locker and uniforms emblazoned with the number 9. He was expected to perform all the drills and regimens required of other kickers. He ws unlike his teammates in some ways—most notably, his livelihood was not on the line as theirs was. But he became remarkably like them in many ways: he risked crippling injury just as they did, endured the hazing that befalls all rookies, daily gorged on 4,000 calories, and slogged through two-a-day practices in blistering heat. Not since George Plimpton's stint as a Detroit Lion more than forty years ago has a writer tunneled so deeply into the NFL.
At first, the players tolerated Fatsis or treated him like a mascot, but over time they began to think of him as one of them. And he began to think like one of them. Like the other Broncos—like all elite athletes—he learned to perfect a motion through thousands of repetitions, to play through pain, to silence the crowd's roar, and to banish self-doubt.
While Fatsis honed his mind and drove his body past exhaustion, he communed with every classic athletic type—the afable alpha male, the overpaid brat, the youthful phenom, the savvy veteran—and a welter of bracingly atypical players as well: a fullback who invokes Aristotle, a quarterback who embraces yoga, and a tight end who takes creative writing classes in the off-season. Fatsis also witnessed the hidden machinery of a top-flight football franchise, from the God-is-in-the-details strategizing of legendary coach Mike Shanahan to the icy calculation with which the front office makes or breaks careers.
With wry candor and hard-won empathy, A Few Seconds of Panic unveils the mind of the modern pro athlete and the workings of a storied sports franchise as no book ever has before.
The Washington Post
Fatsis (Word Freak) is dwarfed by any of the NFL athletes who put their bodies on the line each Sunday. But that doesn't stop him from asking to attend the Denver Broncos' training camp in hopes of learning "one very specific athletic skill"-that is, placekicking-and not to become an NFL-caliber kicker, but to become a "credible one." Fatsis is treated like any rookie, from having to sing his alma mater's fight song minutes after stepping into the locker room to carrying the team's duffel bags and bunking in the hotel with all the other rookies. But his vibrant enthusiasm for improving his kicking ability helps his Bronco teammates accept him as one of their own. With that, the reader gets a glimpse of the true NFL, in the tradition of George Plimpton's Paper Lion. We see the crippling injuries that are kept secret for fear of losing playing time; the heartbreak of standing on the sidelines in camp, just aching to prove one's worth; the tears that come when the NFL dream could be over. Fatsis, too, has his own personal highs and lows through camp, enduring the long days, the trainer's visits and the sting of failure in front of coaches and players. It's an incredibly fascinating read for football fans, squashing the notion that the life of an NFL player is always glamorous. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
- Penguin Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.36(w) x 8.94(h) x 1.16(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
What People are saying about this
Meet the Author
Stefan Fatsis is a sports reporter for the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times bestselling author of Word Freak.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >