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Paper Lion: Confessions of a Last-String Quarterback

Overview

An author, journalist, editor, actor, and modern-day Renaissance man, George Plimpton (1927-2003) was perhaps best known for Paper Lion. Originally published in 1966 and today considered a classic, the book set the bar for participatory sports journalism, if not literature in general. With his characteristic insight and wit, the Harvard-educated Plimpton recounts his experiences in successfully talking his way into training camp - not as a reporter but as a player - with the Detroit Lions, practicing with ...

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Overview

An author, journalist, editor, actor, and modern-day Renaissance man, George Plimpton (1927-2003) was perhaps best known for Paper Lion. Originally published in 1966 and today considered a classic, the book set the bar for participatory sports journalism, if not literature in general. With his characteristic insight and wit, the Harvard-educated Plimpton recounts his experiences in successfully talking his way into training camp - not as a reporter but as a player - with the Detroit Lions, practicing with the team, and actually taking snaps behind center in a preseason game. This special 40th anniversary edition, featuring photos not seen in any previous edition, provides a classic look at the gridiron game through the lens of a true literary giant.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A continuous feast...The best book ever about football—or anything!" — Wall Street Journal
 
"A great book that makes football absolutely fascinating to fan and non-fan alike...a tale to gladden the envious heart of every weekend athlete...Plimpton has endless curiosity, unshakable enthusiasm and nerve, and a deep respect for the world he enters." — New York Times
 
"The agility and imaginativeness of his prose transforms his account of this daydream into a classic of sports reporting." — The New Yorker
 
"Possibly the most arresting and delightful narrative in all of sports literature." — Book Week
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781599210056
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/1/2006
  • Edition number: 40
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.21 (d)

Meet the Author

George Plimpton (1927 - 2003) was the best-selling author and editor of nearly thirty books, as well as the cofounder, publisher, and editor of the Paris Review. He wrote regularly for such magazines as Sports Illustrated and Esquire, and he also appeared numerous times in films and on television.

Biography

The scion of New England bluebloods who traced their ancestry back to the Mayflower, affable WASP George Plimpton was one of the 20th century's most beloved literary figures. Raised in Manhattan and educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, Harvard University, and King's College, Cambridge, Plimpton co-founded The Paris Review in 1953 and served as its editor and guiding light for the next half century. Under his stewardship, the journal became a showcase for serious fiction and poetry by new and emerging writers. It also introduced a new style of author interview emphasizing the creative process and the writer's craft. Called by Salman Rushdie "the finest available inquiry into the 'how' of literature," the Paris Review interview remains an integral part of the magazine.

In addition to these highbrow pursuits, Plimpton is also responsible for originating a popular literary genre. Gregarious and adventurous by nature, he followed his intellectual curiosity into Walter Mitty-like arenas, then chronicled his exploits—most of them noble failures—in works that came to be categorized as "participatory journalism." He sparred with heavyweight champ Archie Moore, pitched in an all-star exhibition baseball game, played percussion for the New York Philharmonic, and tried out for the circus. And although he was famous for lighthearted reportage (most notably Paper Lion, his sidesplitting 1966 account of training with the Detroit Lions football team), he proved his literary chops with well-received oral biographies of Edie Sedgwick and Truman Capote.

Instantly recognizable for his tall, lanky frame and upper-crust Brahmin accent, Plimpton was a popular fixture of the Manhattan literary and social scene. Upon his death in September, 2003, The New York Times recalled his "boundless energy and perpetual bonhomie." Five years later, Random House published George, Being George, an affectionate oral biography composed of anecdotes from more than 200 people who knew Plimpton in his many capacities. Editor and longtime Paris Review colleague Nelson Aldrich described the book as a "kind of literary party, George's last."

Good To Know

Like his grandfather and father before him, Plimpton enrolled in the prestigious New Hampshire prep school, Phillips Exeter Academy. He spent most of his time either in detention or on probation, and was finally expelled several months shy of graduation. The family was chagrinned, and Plimpton spent many years trying to atone for his failure. By the way, he graduated right on schedule from Daytona Beach High School!

Plimpton loved athletics, and much of the "participatory journalism" for which he's famous revolves around sports. He wrote books about his less-than-successful exploits in professional baseball (Out of My League), football (Paper Lion; Mad Ducks and Bears), golf (The Bogey Man), and hockey (Open Net).

He also loved fireworks and spent a lot of time with the Grucci family, whose Long Island-based company produced spectacular displays. He chronicled his longtime passion in the 1984 book Fireworks, and Mayor John Lindsay appointed him Fireworks Commissioner of New York, an unofficial title totally unrelated to government.

Plimpton made occasional forays into film, usually as an extra or in cameo appearances as himself.

A longtime friend of the Kennedy clan, Plimpton was with Bobby Kennedy in 1968 when the presidential candidate was assassinated. He also was in Norman Mailer's apartment the night the writer stabbed his wife.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      March 18, 1927
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, NY
    1. Date of Death:
      September 25, 2003
    2. Place of Death:
      New York, NY
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English Literature, Harvard University, 1950; Master's degree, Cambridge University, 1952

Read an Excerpt

"I still think quarterback. It's the position everyone would want to read about."
 
"You'll be standing right at the edge of the pit—just teetering there," said Wilson, grinning.
 
"I'll back away quick enough," I said. And I'm not going to run into it. What's that fine dictum of Van Brocklin—that a quarterback only runs out of sheer terror?"
 
Wilson did not give me much time to change my mind. On the fourth or fifth day or practice—the backfields running  throu play patterns without contact from the defense—Wilson suddenly called out: "OK George. In you go. Let's have the twenty-three roll. You've got it in your playbook. You know how it works."
 
I dropped my notebook.
 
I did know what to do from the class the nght before—that is I knew how the play was supposed to be run, but I had no idea where my hands were supposed to go, exactly—as I stood up behind the center to receive the ball. I had never stood in against a center, my hands groping under his backside, in the odd near-coupling stance of the T-formation quarterback.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2004

    A must read for any sports fan!

    Plimpton's work gives a fine account of the behind the curtain goings on of an NFL team at a time when the game was beginning to change into what it is today. A fantastic and humorous look into the day to day life of an NFL training camp and the brutal reality of one of America's favorite pastimes.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2009

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