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Random reminiscences of over 50 seasons in and around football--from schoolboy jaunts to Yankee Stadium (when Red Grange's talent for broken-field running was on display) through a sportswriting career under Stanley Woodward at the late, lamented New York Herald Tribune. When the paper folded, Rosenthal signed on as a publicist with the upstart AFL, then moved over to the NFL when the first-rank circuit absorbed its pesky rival. Now, he's an opinionated armchair historian looking back at the likes of Jim Thorpe, Mel Hein, Buddy Young, Dick Kazmaier, Joe Namath, Paul Brown, Bronko Nagurski, Harry Wismer, Vince Lombardi, et al. Also on hand is Grantland Rice--whose storied lead immortalizing Notre Dame's Four Horsemen backfield was appropriated, we hear, from a student press-box aide who had recently seen a film version of the Blasco-Ibanez novel. Then there's Johnny Unitas, for whom Rosenthal ghosted a bio (Playing Pro Football to Win) in 1968; queried about his opus at a kickoff luncheon, ""the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL"" responded, ""Haven't read it yet."" Rosenthal was on the scene, too, for the notorious Heidi game when NBC switched, in the waning seconds, from a late-season 1968 contest with New York leading Oakland 32-28, to a children's movie; by the time the gun sounded, the Raiders had beaten the Jets 43-32, and the network's switchboard ""lit up like the White House Christmas Tree."" Rosenthal, however, isn't all laughs; along with other old-timers, he holds strong, unflattering views about today's one-way pros with their high-powered agents, six-figure salaries, and penchant for contract renegotiation. And there's a distinctly Eastern bias to his reportage, which won't endear him to fans of the Pac 10, Southwest, Big Eight, etc. Overall, though, a treat for gridiron buffs who can remember when drop-kicking was an art and players went both ways.

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 1981
Publisher: Atheneum