New York Daily News football columnist Myers (The Catch: One Play, Two Dynasties, and the Game that Changed the NFL, 2008) explores the lives and careers of some iconic coaches.
The author focuses on recent decades, eschewing tales of Brown, Lombardi or even Shula. He begins instead with the quick rise and fall of Sean Payton, whose abundant confidence helped propel the Saints into a Super Bowl win (2009) but also brought about his demise when he, like many other successful people in just about any profession, thought his success had purchased immunity. Myers then shifts attention to Joe Gibbs, who had to deal with personal demons as well as the gunshot death of star player Sean Taylor. Floating above much of the narrative is Bill Parcells, whose own considerable coaching achievements were due partially to some skilled assistants, including Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll. Myers also looks at the relationships between coaches and some controversial and/or unique players: Andy Reid and Michael Vick (convicted of running a dog-fighting ring), John Fox and popular Tim Tebow (quickly traded when Peyton Manning became available), Mike Holmgren and Brett Favre (who loved to improvise). The author also covers the firing of Tom Landry, the career of his successor, Jimmy Johnson, the trade of Herschel Walker (the author calls it the greatest in NFL history), and the on-again, off-again, on-again career of Dick Vermeil, as well as the quick successes of Brian Billick and Jets’ coach Rex Ryan. Myers’ diction is not always novel, and he sometimes declares the obvious as if it were not: “It’s a cutthroat business, a results business. Win and you stay. Lose and you leave.”
Some arresting snapshots of the coaching life, but the captions are sometimes as conventional as a cautious coach.