I am a huge fan of the NFL. I own season tickets to the Bears, I grew up going to most of the NY Giants' home and took a yearly sojourn to Philly for the Giants-Eagles game. I own a Eli Manning jersey...and wear it a lot! I play fantasy football and am in 2 weekly picks pools.
So you get the point. I love the NFL. But, there I days when I feel like my love of football clashes with my obsession with literature and reading. But the people over at the Page Turners blog
(NY Daily News
) have helped me to reconcile my two seemingly diametrically opposed loves, with a great essay analyzing the literature that best defines each team. Use the linked title below to see the original post with pictures, or just read the text copy below.
But first a 2 bits on analysis here:
- Their overall point is one I love: there will only be one team with a happy ending, but after the season, each team will have a good story to tell.
- What a great way to branch out the concept of readalikes too. Here are readalikes for you favorite sports team. Brilliant. And I thought I was inventive for offering book readalikes for TV shows.
America makes a clear distinction between bookish types and football
types. The Nerd vs. Neanderthal dichotomy is a cornerstone of American
culture (at least in American culture as presented in high school TV
But the truth is that football and literature do not occupy separate
realms. As any fan knows, football is driven by drama of the game. Each
week’s contests are served up with a mythological importance: Epic
battles between the forces of good and evil; tales of impossible
redemption colliding with heartbreaking falls from grace; traitors
conspiring in the shadows of egomaniacal tyrants. And all of that is
just on the New York Jets.
So to help you make sense of this upcoming season, here is a literary
guide to the 2012 NFL season, wherein we identify some of the most
compelling storylines and narratives from each team and its literary
equivalent. While only one team’s season will have a truly happy ending
—every team will emerge with a few good stories to tell.
Tired of wallowing in mediocrity, the
Bills have decided to throw caution to the wind. They’ve opened up
their wallets and are looking to a large man (DE Mario Williams) to show
them the way to a happier life.
"Zorba the Greek" (Nikos Kazantzakis)
The Dolphins are the stars of the NFL
reality show, "Hard Knocks." Will they be able to ignore the intense
scrutiny of the camera and focus on their craft? Or will these
highly-trained professionals succumb to the drama and allow their art to
Literary Equivalent: "My Name is Red" (Orhan Pamuk)
New England Patriots:
A misanthropic genius (Bill
Belichick) continually tinkers with his team, mixing and matching
discarded parts into a fearsome juggernaut. Will his experimenting give
birth to a breakthrough or an imperfect monster that ultimately leads to
"Frankenstein" (Mary Shelley)
New York Jets:
In the absence of true leadership, a
culture arises that values bravado over all other virtues. This volatile
mix of personalities must resist a descent into anarchy and choose
between two imperfect leaders (Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow) before they
tear themselves apart.
"Lord of the Flies" (William Golding)
years of striking fear in the hearts of men, is this the season that
the great Baltimorean (Ray Lewis) finally meets his end?
"The Poe Shadow" (Matthew Pearl)
Pinning their hopes to an unproven
but charismatic redhead (Andy Dalton), this swarthy crew hopes he has
what it takes to lead them to glory.
"The Long Ships" (Frans Bengtsson)
As a Cleveland fan, you had better learn to love the pain.
"Fifty Shades of Grey" (E.L. James)
Led by a man with a reputation as a
headhunter (James Harrison), the Steelers play with the ruthless
aggression of a bygone era. But has the world moved on and made their
violent style obsolete?
"Blood Meridian" (Cormac McCarthy)
Despite making their first ever playoff
appearance, the Texans lost several key contributors on both offense
and defense and begin the season with nothing but questions.
"The Interrogative Mood" (Padgett Powell)
Compact but powerful, Maurice Jones-Drew packs a concise punch while toiling in relative obscurity.
Literary Equivalent: "
The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis" (Lydia Davis)
Against a backdrop dripping with
nostalgia, the team must learn to move on from their rich past. With a
lot of (Andrew) luck, they just might be able to carve out their own
place in the world.
"The Joy Luck Club" (Amy Tan)
In the world of fantasy (football),
Chris Johnson had no equal… until reality came crashing down on him last
season. Can he regain his footing in the fantasy realm and scramble his
way back into our good graces?
"The Talented Mr. Ripley" (Patricia Highsmith)
for a more beautiful brand of football, John Elway becomes infatuated
with the talented Peyton Manning. In a vain attempt to hold on the
glories of his youth, Manning strikes a deal with Elway in an attempt to
retain his youth and delay the inevitable march of time.
"The Picture of Dorian Gray" (Oscar Wilde)
Kansas City Chiefs:
Last year everything seemed to go
wrong for Kansas City (particularly losing young stars Jamaal Charles
and Eric Berry for the season), and yet they managed to come out on the
other side, if not better, then tougher. Now the team must regroup and
find the strength to keep pushing despite past heartbreak.
Literary Equivalent: "Play It As It Lays" (Joan Didion)
This season will be played in the
shadow of departed owner Al Davis, a hard-living Californian who
notoriously bypassed prudence in favor of speed (Exhibit A: Darius
Heyward-Bey). As the team races on, will Davis’s legacy be one of
triumphant ecstasy or wasted potential?
"Less Than Zero" (Brett Easton Ellis)
San Diego Chargers:
The team said goodbye to two
legends during the off-season (Junior Seau and LaDainian Tomlinson).
Will they be able to cope and do they have the key to unlocking playoff
success and leaving their painful past behind?
"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" (Jonathan Safran Foer)
they an offensive juggernaut on the cusp of breaking through? An
overrated glamour team with no guts? A mediocre team elevated by the
grace of being in a high profile market? This team looks different from
every perspective, and you're never quite sure which account is
"Rashomon and Other Stories" (Ryunosuke Akutagawa)
New York Giants:
Once again, the G-men are Masters of the Universe — but can they maintain their perch at the top?
"Bonfire of the Vanities" (Tom Wolfe)
Everything seemed to be going
their way, but the Eagles found themselves in a rut for most of last
season. Will breaking up with Asante Samuel and starting a promising new
relationship with DeMeco Ryans be enough for the team to recapture its
"How Stella Got Her Groove Back" (Terry McMillan)
With this team there always seems
to be magic in the air--at least during the summertime. Will the arrival
of the enchanting Robert Griffin III be enough to finally turn their
off season dreams into reality or will Washington fans eventually awake,
disillusioned and unsatisfied?
"A Midsummer Night’s Dream" (William Shakespeare)
Under former offensive coordinator Mike
Martz, the Bears strayed from its lunch pail roots and experimented with
a more aesthetically pleasing brand of offensive football — with mixed
results. Now the team looks to get back to the basics, going for
substance over style with the realization that when it comes to
football, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.
"On Beauty" (Zadie Smith)
The sharp rise from league embarrassment
to “it” team has left team this struggling with a major identity
crisis. Are they loveable upstarts or menacing bullies? Following an
off-season featuring multiple arrests, this team has a lot of soul
searching ahead of them if they have any hope of establishing an
identity for themselves.
Literary Equivalent: "
The Namesake" (Jhumpa Lahiri)
Green Bay Packers:
Motivated by his humble beginnings
(an embarrassing drop in the 2005 NFL Draft), Aaron Rodgers has climbed
to such great heights that anything short of a Super Bowl is considered
as a disappointment.
"Great Expectations" (Charles Dickens)
Recovering from a devastating
leg injury, star running back Adrian Peterson must hold depression at
bay if he has any hope of regaining his previous form.
"Slow Man" (J.M. Coetzee)
Last year, GM Thomas Dmitroff gave up a
king’s ransom for the right to draft wide receiver Julio Jones, hoping
that his rare combination of speed and power would put the Falcons over
the top. After a promising but inconsistent rookie season, Jones is out
to realize his potential and prove that he is the right fit for this
"The Missing Piece" (Shel Silverstein)
: In his record-breaking rookie
reason, quarterback Cam Newton displayed superhuman abilities, not only
with his rocket arm, but with his uncanny ability to escape tricky
situations. With his tenacious sidekick (Steve Smith) by his side, the
unlikely duo is determined to take the team to new heights and change
"The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay" (Michael Chabon)
New Orleans Saints:
After a tumultuous off season heavy
with suspensions and fines (including a year-long ban for head coach
Sean Payton), New Orleans fans will spend most of their season resentful
and sending angry missives to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and other
authority figures; letters that will probably never even be read.
"Herzog" (Saul Bellow)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
The Bucs have put together an
intriguing cast of characters, but the question remains: Do they have
the skill to successfully weave the different parts together into a
"A Visit from the Goon Squad" (Jennifer Egan)
entering the league, Larry Fitzgerald has been one of the league’s
greatest wide receivers and one of its consummate professionals. But
since QB Kurt Warner’s retirement, his world has become a truly desolate
place. With such scant signs of life around him, Fitzgerald can’t help
but feel desperately alone on the football field.
"Zone One" (Colson Whitehead)
St. Louis Rams:
Despite a successful track record, head
coach Jeff Fischer was unceremoniously dismissed from his position with
Tennessee. Known for his disarming nature and straight- forward
approach, Fischer will bring a new sincerity to a program that is in
desperate need of a fresh perspective.
"No One Belongs Here More Than You" (Miranda July)
San Francisco 49ers:
Always the controversial figure,
the enigmatic Randy Moss has been largely villainized in the court of
public opinion. This is his last chance to prove that the stories aren’t
true, that he has been misunderstood this whole time. It also wouldn’t
hurt his cause if he could prove that he can still fly down the field.
"Wicked" (Gregory Maguire)
Unable to find his perfect man, the
likeable but unlucky Pete Carroll decided to take a chance on Russell
Wilson — despite his obvious shortcomings. Will Wilson turn out to be
the Mr. Right with whom Carroll can spend the rest of his life season?
Literary Equivalent: "Bridget Jones’s Diary" (Helen Fielding)