Thursday, August 07, 2008

"A Few Seconds of Panic" by Stefan Fatsis

In his book "A Few Seconds of Panic", Wall Street Journal writer Stefan Fatsis gives an extremely interesting account of his training camp spent as a 43-year-old journalist going through Training Camp with the Denver Broncos as a field goal kicker. The journey he took was reminisent of George Plimpton's decades ago when he went through Camp with the Detroit Lions as part of his book "Paper Lion".

While the book dragged on at times, I still highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the NFL as it gives a detailed look at what life in the league can be like for the players... a very few of whom are the stars and majority are often expendable parts.

I've for quite a while found fascinating the fact that the NFL is the major league you're most likely to suffer a dehibilitating injury in, and the only one that doesn't have fully guaranteed contracts.

This view I've had of it as a "chew 'em up and spit 'em out" league is reinforced throughout Fatsis' book... particularly in the several sections where he talks about players going through camp knowing they won't make the team and the coaches knowing they won't make the team, but being kept around to the end to "keep other teams from getting them... you know, just in case someone gets hurt."

There's also a terribly interesting observation made in the middle of the book that the league is broken down into two types of players... not by age, race or salary, but by respective love of the game. There's one camp of players that still just love the game and accept that the parts of being a pro athelete they don't like just come with the territory. The other camp probably also started out loving football (as I imagine most college players still do), but now continue on with NFL careers for the money (understandable given how high the salaries can get), and in spite of the berating of coaches and potential for life-impacting injury.

All in all... really good read.