I’ve read and enjoyed Gary Myers before so when his new book, My First Coach, showed up on NetGalley I was eager. I knew that there would be some overlap with Brady vs. Manning in both of those chapters, but I was pleased to see that this book covered the 2016 season so would be more up to date than that book. There wasn’t much new to me as a Giants fan in the Manning chapter, but I liked how Myers touched on Brady’s mother’s health battle as well as his relationship with his father.
Like Coaching Confidential, the scope of this book is fairly wide ranging from contemporary QBs to the 1970s coaching career of Jack Harbaugh and 1980s playing careers of Archie Manning. Montana, Elway and Simms. You realize how unique Manning genes are, something Myers touched on when comparing Peyton and Eli to Nate and Nick Montana, when you realize that no other player profiled besides the Harbaughs need the clarification of a first name to know who you’re speaking of. While Matt Simms had to share a metropolitan area, Nate Montana’s choice to follow in his father’s footsteps at Notre Dame field was an interesting one.
I really enjoyed how Myers chose to organize the families he profiled as it painted a picture how football has changed since (Jack) Harbaugh was coaching and (Archie) Manning and Montana were playing. In comparing the (lack of) success of Montana’s sons to Archie’s sons’ success, it provided a natural coda to the book. I also liked the inclusion of the Harbaugh chapter for its ability to showcase a coaching family vs. an athlete family. While there were parallels of non-athlete father and NFL QB sons in Brady & Fitzpatrick, it was the latter I enjoyed most as I know very little about Ryan Fitzpatrick aside from his brief Jets career.
In general it was the chapters on Ryan Fitzpatrick and John Elway that I enjoyed the most because it was new to me material. Who knew that someone could opt to go to Harvard after not being able to go to Arizona State? I’m too young to remember Elway’s college career and don’t think I ever knew his father was a college coach. The vignette about his father convincing him to come home because otherwise he wouldn’t be allowed in the house after his defense beat up on Elway was entertaining. I also like how the chosen families allowed the stories to touch on other players whose careers intersected, especially Dan Marino and Brett Favre with Elway.
On the coaching side, I felt the profile of Jack Harbaugh helped contextualize some of Jim’s mannerisms. I especially also liked how he coaxed Jack out of retirement to be his RB coach to prepare for a bowl game after Willie Taggart left for Western Kentucky after it was Jim who helped recruit Taggart to play for Jack at Western Kentucky. (As an aside, the relationship between the Taggarts and the Harbaughs is amazing & further detailed here.)
All in all, really good book for NFL fans. Engaging, quick read that I probably could have finished in one sitting with more time on that train ride.
State of the Books:
Caught up with some beach reading time this week but still behind with 50 read on the year. Still off pace by 8 so at least I’ve not fallen further behind. I think it’s safe to say I won’t catch up and hit my goals on the year though.