Fun memories from football greats, and some fascinating insights into the politics of the Hall of Fame and football’s evolution over the past 50 years, as compiled by McCullough (My Greatest Day in Golf, not reviewed).
Twenty-seven Hall of Famers (with the exception of Bill Parcells) were interviewed for this collection, in which McCullough asked them to describe their greatest day in pro football, greatest day in college ball, and the best players they encountered. There’s Pete Pihos, one of the best ends to ever play and an All Pro on both sides of the ball back in the 1940s and ’50s, talking about playing against Sammy Baugh and the Redskins, and Bob St. Clair (all six feet, nine inches, and 265 pounds of him) running down Emlen Tunnell of the Giants. It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that Bart Starr’s greatest game was the Ice Bowl against Dallas on the way to the first Super Bowl, or that almost every player speaks the name Jim Brown (painfully absent) with a reverential awe. Some of the material comes across as disjointed: With Steve Largent, it’s not at all clear which games he’s talking about. And although it is admirable that McCullough lets the players speak in their own voice here, some tidying was in order: “They sent me a tape with like forty or fifty of my interceptions—I didn’t even remember half of them. I only remembered maybe forty out of the fifty, you know?” Nobody speaks with such a sense of pure joy (not just about playing football but relating the entire atmosphere at the time and his part in it) as Sam Huff of the New York Giants. Fresh out of West Virginia (“I couldn’t imagine trains running underground. I mean how do you fantasize about that?”), he became the prototype middle linebacker: “The head slap was legal at that time, you know, and when they slapped me, well, I slugged them back.”
Simply not to be missed: Meat and potatoes for the football fan.