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Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile

Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile

4.3 29
by Nate Jackson

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One man's odyssey into the brutal hive of the National Football League

As an unsigned free agent who rose through the practice squad to the starting lineup of the Denver Broncos, Nate Jackson took the path of thousands of unknowns before him to carve out a professional football career twice as long as the average player. Through his story recounted


One man's odyssey into the brutal hive of the National Football League

As an unsigned free agent who rose through the practice squad to the starting lineup of the Denver Broncos, Nate Jackson took the path of thousands of unknowns before him to carve out a professional football career twice as long as the average player. Through his story recounted here—from scouting combines to preseason cuts to byzantine film studies to glorious touchdown catches—even knowledgeable football fans will glean a new, starkly humanized understanding of the NFL's workweek. Fast-paced, lyrical, dirty, and hilariously unvarnished, Slow Getting Up is an unforgettable look at the real lives of America's best athletes putting their bodies and minds through hell.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Dwight Garner
…it's everything you want football memoirs to be but never are: hilarious, dirty, warm, human, honest, weird…[Jackson's] that unicornlike rarity among former football players: He can write…Slow Getting Up is a sly, inquisitive, wide-awake book about what it's like to play in the N.F.L. if you're a relative nobody, if you're among the beefy proletariat. It'll make you see the game with fresh eyes.
Publishers Weekly
★ 11/25/2013
Former football player Jackson draws from six years of experience in the NFL to reveal the travails of strenuous training camps, road trips, injuries, and the overall precarious nature of the job. Jackson is a natural writer and he tells his story in an honest and highly absorbing way, exerting imaginative language with affable ease and never seeming bitter or petulant. He frequently relies on caveats: "Being able to actually relax in the NFL is rare," he writes. "The pressures are too great. And they are constant. The head coach is under siege at all times, and it trickles down to everyone else." He gives much attention to the topic of injury: "My ‘mild hamstring strain' won't heal. Ice here, heat there, stretch here, rub there, inject here, pills there: nothing is helping … a dangerous place to be a gimp." Jackson's story is one of hope laced with reality: "There is a football game to play. Then there is another. Always another… opportunity for glory." The product will appeal to football fans and general readers alike. Though Jackson's days playing pro-ball are over, his writing career is just taking off. Agent: Alice Martell, the Martell Agency. (Sept.)
Dwight Garner
“That screaming you hear coming across the sky? It’s a wobbly spiral…Slow Getting Up is everything you want football memoirs to be but never are: hilarious, dirty, warm, human, honest, weird.”
Scott Raab
Slow Getting Up tells the whole truth about the NFL. Painfully honest and remarkably funny, it’s far and away the best ‘insider’ book about pro sports since Jim Bouton’s Ball Four.”
Tom Junod
“The book the world has been waiting for. “Ball Four” for the football world is here at last.”
San Jose Mercury News
“A tremendously authentic, inside-the-locker-room view is unveiled with Jackson’s myriad stories, clever wit, skillful prose and perfect dose of sophomoric humor.”
Jonathan Mahler
Rolling Stone
“The best football memoir ever.”
New Republic
Ben Fountain
“Excellent...busts through pro football’s prevailing mythology...Nate Jackson gives us the game warts and all, but never in a drag-ass, woe-is-me way. A really fine book. Man can write.”
Stefan Fatsis
“Simply the best book by a former player about life in the NFL that you will read. Maybe the best book period about life in the NFL that you will read.”
Library Journal
Periodically, one of pro football's lumpen proletariat provides a perceptive insider's view of the NFL from the end of the bench. The lesser-light author in this case is a former Broncos receiver who caught just 27 passes in his six-year NFL career from 2003 to 2009 while missing dozens of games because of yearly injuries. Jackson draws a sharp picture of the rough camaraderie of the NFL fraternity with lots of good behind-the-scenes stories involving both players and coaches. The language is coarse and crude, and the author spends too much time on private sexual habits of no relevance or interest, as well as on the dry diagnostic details of his injuries, but he also effectively portrays the adhesive hold such a physically punishing and mentally stressful sport exerts on its players. VERDICT A flawed but interesting look at the NFL life for adult fans.
Kirkus Reviews
An insightful memoir of an unlikely NFL career. Jackson is likely a much better athlete than nearly all of his readers, but in the National Football League, he was just average--and he knows as much. Every season, he fought simply to make the team, which he did. The author successfully navigated the nearly unimaginable leap from a tiny Division III college to a six-year career as a wide receiver and tight end with the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos, with ill-fated training-camp experiences before and after his tenure in the Rockies and a season playing for NFL Europe in Germany. Jackson has an original voice, honed as a writer for a number of newspapers, magazines and websites, perhaps most frequently with Deadspin. The author is wry and smart and has a love-hate relationship with the sport that gave him so much but also took a great deal from him. Jackson's career was peppered with injuries: muscles torn from the bone, dislocations and sprains and the concomitant shots, pills and therapy sessions that would allow him to go back to the field. Jackson's greatest strength is his self-awareness. Every time one of his stories seems to be veering toward stereotypical athlete bluster, he takes an ironic swerve, usually making himself the butt of his own acerbic wit. That wit also manifests itself in a cynical approach to a host of issues ranging from tired sports-as-war metaphors to stadium naming rights. Ultimately, the injuries and the toll of the incredibly violent game got the best of him. Readers are the beneficiaries. Jackson was never a household name, but his memoir is better than any ghostwritten self-homage from a superstar.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Meet the Author

Nate Jackson played six seasons in the National Football League as a wide receiver and a tight end. His writing has appeared in Deadspin, Slate, Daily Beast, BuzzFeed, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. A native of San Jose, California, he now lives in Los Angeles. This is his first book.

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Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival From the Bottom of the Pile 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
BenGoldwin More than 1 year ago
Slow Getting Up is a book rich with stories of perseverance and strength of spirit. Every page is educational. Here, Nate Jackson describes life in the NFL…going from undrafted free agent to practice squad to starter. A splendid memoir to say the least.
SarahMcClurg More than 1 year ago
Slow Getting up is a fantastic book about the life of NFL player Nate Jackson. Undrafted but undeterred, Jackson made a career in the NFL. Told in his own words, Jackson lets us know about his life struggles, not just in the NFL.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I agree with the above reviews but it is laugh out loud funny page after page.
TulaneGirl More than 1 year ago
So this football memoir is a little different than most. Nate Jackson isn't your star football player reminiscing on a life well lived. He isn't a bankrupt football player lamenting the lack of preparation for "real" life. It's not a vanity project. It feels more genuine.  Nate Jackson is a player teetering the line between the practice squad and special teams. He starts out with the 49ers but is with Denver for the majority of his 6 year tenure. He struggles to find balance between his pride and body - generally his body loses out. His body takes shot after shot - both physically and medically until it finally just gives out. When he reaches his end, he turns to illicit methods to prop up his body but to no avail. He tries to get back into the game through more honest methods but is unable to find a spot after tries with the Eagles, Browns, and Saints. Football embodies the mantra of "What have you done for me lately?" and there is always someone younger and healthier right behind.  Stylistically, it was an easy read - easily done in one sitting. The prose is simplistic but gives it a certain authenticity. Certainly won't go down in the annals as one of the great sports books, but worth a read nonetheless. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is the most well written honest description of life in the NFL. I could not put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a truly amazing book about what working in the NFL is really like because before I read this book I always thought going into the NFL was fun, even when you are not on the team, but it showed all of the countless hours put in in order to make the starting roster like going to Germany just to practice during the season. Overall an amazing book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story about life as your average football player. Good read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fun and quick book to read. I am not a football fan, at all. But really enjoyed the behind the scenes insight and Nate's humor and candor is refreshing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really loved the self degrading humor & honest view from someone who felt he was one of the worst of the top athletes in the world.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Well written, easy to read...mostly. It's hard to read about the harsh reality of the physical part of football that we all know exists. The pain and suffering endured for the love of the sport. Nate is incredibly lucky that he's a talented writer and has potential post-NFL. Most are not that lucky. And I don't think that's lost on Nate.
Drewano More than 1 year ago
Every Sunday America watches football like a religion but we only see the top layer. In ‘Slow Getting Up’ Nate Jackson tells the reader what it’s like behind the scenes in getting ready for the game and showing what is asked of players to make it to the NFL when you’re not a superstar. This book is a well written memoir which is sometimes funny sometimes poignant but always enlightening.
B-loNY More than 1 year ago
Love football? You'll love this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good, easy read. Whether you're a fan of the NFL or not, I think you'll enjoy this author's recount of his days in the league. The interesting part for me started with his stories of being in the locker room, lacing up, and dealing with all the facets of living the dream of being a pro football and player. What kept me reading, however, was the ugly and dark part of the organization that we, the general public, know nothing about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An interesting, and at times, humorous look at what a NFL career is like when you're not one of the few well-paid superstars.
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bleacherbum99 More than 1 year ago
A good look at a non-super star battle for a spot on a roster. A look at what happens when the non-super star gets hurt. A good look at reality of an average NFL player, Nate Jackson.
lee88LL More than 1 year ago
this was a great story, loved the action and the trials they go through to just get noticed and get to the big game.
T-RadSR More than 1 year ago
Nate Jackson's first book is an informative humorous look at pro-football. Every time he would describe his latest injury I would just wince with pain. I don't know how he came from some of his injuries. He is a man who was pursuing the dream of being a pro football player. Even when this pursuit took him to Europe or a less known league in Arizona you have to admire his determination. I enjoyed Nate's writing style enough I am going to read the next thing he pens. Good luck Nate in your new writing career.
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Joe_Wit More than 1 year ago
This was a very interesting read for anyone wanting to experience the NFL from a player's point of view. You feel like you're in the locker room and on the field with Nate and almost personally experience all his many ups and downs in his bumpy career.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting and honest look at real life in the NFL. This is a very insightful sports book which can be difficult to find at times. Kudos to Nate.