the ultimate super bowl bookThe Ultimate Super Bowl Book: A Complete Reference to the Stats, Stars, and Stories behind Football’s Biggest Game — And Why the Best Team Won is more than a book about the history of the Super Bowl, AKA the throw-down between the two best football teams in the United States. Want to learn some facts and secrets about over 40 years of Super Bowls? Check out this book. The author, Bob McGinn, has won numerous awards and has covered more than twenty Super Bowls as a sportswriters for two different newspapers.

McGinn delves beyond the traditional football statistics to present readers with interviews from over 150 people from coaches to players to scouts. Interested in what happened behind the scenes? Read along as McGinn dissects the game plans, strategies, and game-time decisions that he learned from studying hours upon hours of game day footage. McGinn pairs the statistical and factual right alongside the stories of the big mistakes, big break-throughs, and the match-ups that led to some of the best rivalry Super Bowl games since they began. McGinn has collected a wealth of knowledge from complete statistics to lists of all people involved in each game to break-downs of the decisive plays.

This book is perfect for football beginners who feel like they should know some trivia before the big game, as well as those football lovers who want to expand their knowledge base.

monstersFor Rich Cohen and millions of other fans, the 1985 Chicago Bears were more than a football team: they were the greatest football team ever – a gang of colorful nuts, dancing and pounding their way to victory. They won a Super Bowl and saved a city. It was not just that the Monsters of the Midway won, but how they did it. On offense, there was high-stepping running back Walter Payton and punky QB Jim McMahon, who had a knack for pissing off Coach Mike Ditka as he made his way to the end zone. On defense, there was the 4-6: a revolutionary, quarterback-concussing scheme cooked up by Buddy Ryan and ruthlessly implemented by Hall of Famers such as Dan “Danimal” Hampton and “Samurai” Mike Singletary. On the sidelines, in the locker rooms, and in bars, there was the never-ending soap opera: the coach and the quarterback bickering on TV, Ditka and Ryan nearly coming to blows in the Orange Bowl, the players recording the “Super Bowl Shuffle” video the morning after the season’s only loss.

Cohen tracked down the coaches and players from this iconic team and asked them everything he has always wanted to know: What’s it like to win? What’s it like to lose? Do you really hate the guys on the other side? Were you ever scared? What do you think as you lie broken on the field? How do you go on after you have lived your dream but life has not ended? The result is Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football, a portrait not merely of a team but of a city and a game: its history, its future, its fallen men, its immortal heroes. But mostly it’s about being a fan – about loving too much. This is a book about America at its most nonsensical, delirious, and joyful. (description from publisher)

People! Why haven’t you been watching this show? It is one of the best shows on television – ever. And now this ratings-challenged, critically acclaimed show is gone (episodes originally aired on Direct TV; now showing on NBC, the final season is nearly over) Fortunately, the library has the DVDs – learn from the error of your ways and watch Friday Night Lights now.

Let me make this clear right from the start – Friday Night Lights is not about football. OK, sure, there are several scenes with shots of  football games, and life in Dillon, Texas seems to revolve around the local high school football teams and the lead character is a football coach. The truth is, this show is about people – how they live, how they fall into and out of love, how they care for other people, how they try to be the best they can with what resources they have. For the younger people, it’s about how you think high school is the be-all and end-all of your life, only to realize it’s barely the beginning and you have some decisions to make that will affect the rest of your life. For the older people, it’s about how those decisions have shaped you and how you’ve learned to live – or not live – with those decisions. It’s poignant and funny and sad and beautiful – kind of like real life.

Brilliant acting (especially Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton), innovative photography, compelling story lines and characters that you can love and understand (even if you think they’re making dumb decisions), Friday Night Lights is both classic and modern, showing us who we are and what we are capable of. The fifth and final season does not disappoint and includes a bittersweet reunion of many of the characters from previous years. Also included in the DVD is a heartfelt retrospective of the series – there won’t be a dry eye in the house after watching this.

Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.

Whether or not you think it’s a big deal, it kind of is. Halas versus Lombardi.
For 180 minutes this weekend, typical genteel Midwestern politeness will be suspended and (gasp!) unpleasantries may be exchanged as the Bears host the Packers for the NFC championship.

The last time these two storied rivals tussled for the big one? One week after Pearl Harbor on a frosty day back in ’41. Chicago won and though they are 3.5pt underdogs heading into Sunday, they’ll find a way to extend that tradition an additional 70 years.

Be sure to stop in to the downtown reference desk during the game and feed Bill scores.

June is the month of transitions – graduations, weddings, the end of the school year. It’s a pretty good bet that someone in your life – or you yourself – is going through one of those big life changing events right now. This week our blogging librarians offer some ideas for helping to send these people (or anyone!) onto the next stage of their life a little wiser.

I’ll start things off with, of all things, a tv show. Friday Night Lights is easily the best show on television with superb acting, graceful writing and story lines that are both heartbreaking and inspiring. This show is not about football – it’s about people – the mistakes they make, the hardships they overcome, the love and support they get from each other.

Many of the characters are in high school, struggling to find their place in the world. At the end of the third season, Tyra applies for college, a goal she never thought she’d achieve. Her essay on why she wants to go to college provide words for anyone to live by.

“Two years ago, I was afraid of wanting anything. I figured wanting would lead to trying and trying would lead to failure. But now I find that I can’t stop wanting. I want to fly somewhere in first class. I want to travel to Europe on a business trip. I want to get invited to the White House. I want to learn about the world. I want to surprise myself. I want to be important. I want to be the best person that I can be. I want to define myself instead of having others define me. I want to win, and have people be happy for me. I want to lose and get over it. I want to not be afraid of the unknown. I want to grow up to be generous and big hearted, the way that people have been with me. I want an interesting and surprising life.

It’s not that I think I’m going to get all of these things. I just want the possibility of getting them. College represents possibility. The possibility that things are going to change. I can’t wait…..”

For a lot of people, football is only a secondary reason to watch the Super Bowl. The real reason so many people watch – the Super Bowl commercials! Companies have paid vast sums for a prime 30 or 60 second spot, counting on being seen by a huge television audience. There is an emphasis on new, clever and innovative, an unofficial competition for the favorite or most-talked-about commercial of the day. Economic hard times have meant the commercial spots aren’t as expensive as some years, but the National Football League and NBC have had no trouble filling the time available.

Not only can you can catch previews for this year’s commercials at Super Bowl Ads, you can view the top commercials from the past ten years (my favorite is Cat Herding from EDS, shown here), catch up on the latest breaking Super Bowl commercial news and, after Sunday’s Super Bowl, watch and vote on your favorites from this year.

Just in case you watch the Super Bowl for the actual football game and would like something to keep you going until training camp starts up again in July, check out these videos from the library:

Friday Night Lights, Season 1 and Season 2. One of the best shows on television about the lives and loves of the people of Dillon, Texas where high school football reigns supreme, now without commercial interruption!

We Are Marshall. Based on the true story of how a small West Virginia college overcame one of the worst disasters in sports history when a plane crash killed most of their team and coaches.

The Longest Yard. Remake of the classic prisoners vs prison guards football game.

Brian’s Song. Another true story, this one about the friendship between Chicago Bears star Gayle Sayers and Brian Piccolo. There won’t be a dry eye in the house.

Rudy. The triumph of the little guy overcoming all odds, a tribute to hanging onto your dreams.

The Express: the Ernie Davis Story. Another inspirational true story (football is full of them) about Ernie Davis, the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy.

super-bowl-43

Super Bowl – those words bring visions of chips, Buffalo wings, friends, half time spectaculars and commercials. And, oh yeah – football.

In the beginning there was the National Football League, created in the 1920s. A young upstart, the American Football League, began in 1960. The Super Bowl was established to determine the best professional football team in America when the NFL and AFL merged in June, 1966.

The first Super Bowl – which was called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game until 1969 – was played on January 15, 1967 when the Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10. Excitement about the Super Bowl really took off in 1970 when Joe Namath guarenteed the underdog New York Jets would defeat the Baltimore Colts (they did, 16-7)

The 43rd Super Bowl will be played this Sunday with the Arizona Cardinals taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers. The winning team will be presented with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, named after the beloved coach of the Green Bay Packers. To get a feel for the history of the game of football, be sure to read The Best Game Ever by Mark Bowden, a brilliant portrait of a single game that changed the history of American sports. This game was played December 28, 1958 between the hardworking, blue collar heroes Baltimore Colts and the glamour boys New York Giants. Many consider this the making of the Super Bowl competition.

Now settle back with some Buffalo wings, chips, pop and friends to enjoy the game.

The Iowa High School Football championships will be played today and tomorrow at the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls. High school football, with it’s cheerleaders, marching bands and Homecoming traditions is part coming-of-age, part serious sport marked by chilly night games played under the lights.

Theron Hopkins set out across the country on a 20-week coast-to-coast exploration of high school football, along the way finding the heart and drama that makes it unique. Traveling from summer practice to a series of state championships, he discovers that what takes place under the lights is only a part – and maybe not even the best part – of what makes high school football so important and beloved by the people who watch it, coach it and play it.

The 80-Yard Run visits schools big and small, from all parts of the country and includes a stopover with the Bettendorf Bulldogs as they prepare to take on Davenport North (2003 season) Other stories range from the coach at Great Falls, Minnesota who uses his own money to purchase weight equipment for the team to Waldport, Oregon with just 14 players on the varsity team to football-crazy Massillon, Ohio where the president of the booster club puts a tiny toy football into every baby boy’s crib at the hospital.