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Dec 2

The Dark Side of the Game by Tim Green

Posted on Sunday, December 2, 2012 in Reviews, Sports, Values

As most mysilentscream readers know, I love baseball and books about baseball.  If you read my review of Men of Sunday by Curtis Eichelberger, you know I love football too.

Published in 1997 The Dark Side of the Game: My Life in the NFL by Tim Green is a quick read, and a friendly introduction to a sometimes dark and always violent game.

Author Tim Green was an unusual NFL player:  
– He read prolifically
– He went to law school in his spare time

Dark Side of the Game is a series of seventy or so blog-like mini-essays (2-4 pages) covering many topics that interested me.

Not Surprising

“Racism In The NFL” exposes that like-players typically spend time with like-players, much like most of society.

While I had little interest in a tell-all book, Green explains:
– A preoccupation with heavy drinking practiced by many players.
– Promiscuous sex is not common among the average player

In “Groupies: Sex, Sex And More Sex” explained that dating and finding mates was harder for NFL players than we might expect.  NFL players have a reputation and therefore most of the guys in the NFL do not have women falling all over them and actually need to work quite hard to get a date.

Injuries:
– Everyone gets concussions; Green estimates he had a dozen concussions
– Stingers are a common VERY painful spinal injury
– Most players would rather have a head injury than a career-threatening knee injury
– ALL players know injuries are inevitable
– Thus pain-killers are over-used and players voluntarily abuse their bodies

Surprises

“Jockless Jocks” – You would never guess such a violent sport, and they don’t wear the same equipment peewee players do.

Incredibly strong, and very large NFL players may be imposing, but “How To Shake Hands With An NFL Player” explains gently is the best technique; not firmly, much less hand-wrenchingly.  Most of these giant men have sore and mangled hands from years of abuse.

I never thought about it, but Green explores that NFL physicians are “the ultimate conflict of interests.”  They are paid by the team to get players ready to play on behalf of the team, even at the expense of the players health; often with the players full support.

I did assume players across the offensive and defensive lines would talk a lot of trash.  While some did, Green explains that most of the time it was competitive, but fairly friendly.

I was not surprised that like-players (rather than mixed groups urban-rural, black-white, etc) hung out together.  I was surprised at the “rift” — the animosity — that Green explained exists between many offensive and defensive teammates.

Conclusion

The vivid descriptions of the game itself and the genuine passion with which most players play is enthralling.  Entering the stadium during the introductions is more than an adrenaline rush it’s intoxicating and “Why Players Can’t Just Walk Away” explains that the applause is one of the many reasons that many NFL players have such a difficult time adjusting to life after their playing days.

Fortunately, for readers Green is both intelligent and articulate and took time to write this book; I enjoyed The Dark Side of the Game very much.

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