Every Sunday, millions of people schedule their days around the National Football League. What once was the second- or third-most popular American sport has now become, unless you are talking to a baseball purist, the national pastime.
Books on the NFL, despite the league’s popularity, shockingly seem to be vague and poorly-written hero biographies.
This is how we arrived at the latest book by acclaimed author John Feinstein. In his newest work, Next Man Up, Feinstein does what few authors have been allowed to do in any sport – spend an entire year, draft day to the last minute of a season, with an NFL team.
Nothing, from player cuts to the draft room to coach meetings, is off limits.
By spending an entire uncensored year with the Baltimore Ravens, Feinstein is able to delve into many aspects the average fan never has knowledge of.
The NFL Draft has almost become a sport of its own. But what goes on inside a team’s draft room? For the Ravens, the draft means taking the best available player. Even in the later rounds, when there are nothing left but “slappys,” as coach Brian Billick nicknames the lesser players to be taken, the Ravens still stick to this policy.
From there, Feinstein takes the reader through the offseason, into training camp and through the regular season. All the while, he intertwines narratives into the story in his critically-acclaimed style. His ability to put a human face to the team sucks the reader in and makes the Ravens missing the playoffs that much harder to take.
In Next Man Up Feinstein explores insecurity, battling with the decision when to quit, and the nervous anticipation of being a player in the National Football League (as those long-winded announcers who refuse to say the simple “NFL” love to refer to it) like it has never been captured before.