Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The 2nd of the 2 Memoirs - And Just About As Good As #1

Slow Getting Up is way different, but, then again, not so much.  Life in the NFL has some prison-like elements to it.  The head coach is the warden, and the assistant coaches are the guards.  Even more similarity between the 2 is a player's specific position coach. Every prisoner has a CO, or Correctional Officer, assigned to her.  Crazy similarities, don't you think?  Well, on to Nate's book.

Nate grew up in San Jose and went to high school with my daughter-in-law (he was 3 years behind her).  He went to Menlo College in the Bay Area, which is a division 3 school.  And let me tell you, there aren't very many D3 football players that make the pros.  Nate defied the odds.  He didn't get drafted, despite 2 outstanding years at Menlo, but got signed to a free agent contract with his local home team, the 49ers.  Nate obviously thought he had died and gone to heaven.  Although he didn't make it with the 49ers, Bill Walsh, who was acting in an advisory capacity with the team by this time, orchestrated a trade with the Denver Broncos, who were coached by Mike Shanahan, an ex-assistant coach with the 49ers.  Bill was definitely looking out for Nate.  And so begins Nate's 6 years with the Broncos.

Just like with Orange Is the New Black, there are no plot give-aways here.  We know right up front that Nate lasted 6 years with the Broncos and then was done.  What's interesting is what happens during those 6 years.  Nate tells some fascinating stories about his life in the NFL.  And it doesn't matter if you like football or not.  Like any good memoir, you care about the author, not necessarily about his accomplishments, or even his profession (or, in Piper's case, her imprisonment).  Nate makes us laugh, cry, and, oftentimes, wince.  I want you to read the book, so I won't give up any of the good stuff.  But let me mention a couple of teasers.

He tells us about the pre-game rituals.  He tells us how much information they have to learn (wait until you read about his tryout with the Cleveland Browns).  He tells us how different it is to catch balls from different quarterbacks.  He tells us, in great detail, what it's like to be on special teams.  I'll give you one quote from late in the book:

"I rail against what I now see as years of mishandled injuries, against the emptiness of fornicating with the jersey chasers, against my own inability to turn from the game, against my monetary motivations for still wanting to play it, against the media's petty ownership of the players, and against the entire bastardized commercialization of what to me is the most beautiful game on earth.  And here is the crux of it:  I still believe in the beauty of the game.  This above all else is true.  But to be a fly on the wall, or to be Derek, is to be struck in the face with how delusional a man scorned by his lover can be. Here I am telling him all the reasons why I hate her, in between sets of an exercise specifically designed to lead me back into her arms.  I am sick."

Read this one too.  A solid 3.

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