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June 4, 2010 > "Then Madden Said to Summerall..." The Best NFL Stories Ever Told

"Then Madden Said to Summerall..." The Best NFL Stories Ever Told

Submitted By Richard Medugno

With the 2010 NFL draft completed, football teams going through off-season work-outs and training camps still a few months from starting, now as good as time as any to crack open a book and enjoy reading about NFL superstars from both the distant past as well as the recent past.

New York writer Matthew Shepatin has compiled a 240 page book titled "Then Madden Said to Summerall..." with stories that features over 40-plus star players and coaches in six chapters, starting from the early days and coming up to the present.

These gridiron personas are grouped into chapters with these titles: The Gunslingers, The Gridiron Generals, The Big Gamers, The Playmakers, The Punishers (Defense) and The Punishers (Offense).

Some of my favorite player profiles were on Walter Payton, Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus. This is surprising to me because they're all Chicago Bears and I've never been a fan of their team. I particularly liked Steeler QB Terry Bradshaw's account of how he was so intimidated by middle linebacker Butkus' growling, foaming at the mouth and "wild-eyed gaze" that he was hypnotized, the way a mongoose does to its prey.

For hardcore football fans who can and like to read, this is an enjoyable book, though it does have a huge hole in coverage (pun intended). There is only one wide receiver featured: Jerry Rice. It's hard to believe that Shepatin could find no room to write about Lynn Swann, Art Monk, Steve Largent, Lance Alworth, Charlie Joiner and other hall-of-fame flankers. Maybe there just aren't any good stories about wide outs? Come on. Interesting stories that feature Terrell Owens could probably fill two tomes.

Another thing I throw the flag at regarding this book is the misleading title. This is not a book by TV announcing team John Madden and Pat Summerall. Nor is it a book about their favorite stories. The subtitle is "The Best NFL Stories Ever Told." It appears that neither commentator has anything input into the book. Furthermore, the book jacket says "Foreword by Pat Summerall" when in fact there is no foreword at all. Triumph Books of Chicago you have some explaining to do.

I think all would agree that it's definitely an illegal procedure to use the names of famous sportscasters to imply an endorsement or connection when none apparently exists.

"Then Madden Said to Summerall..."
By Matthew Shepatin, Published by Triumph, 2009 240 pp

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