Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dallas Morning News: Review

Rick Gosselin, the respected NFL writer for the Dallas Morning News, has a nice review of The Galloping Ghost.

The Galloping Ghost, by Gary Andrew Poole.

In the three-plus decades I've covered the NFL, I've interviewed many an inflated ego that thought pro football began with him. Poole's book is about the one player who can truly make that claim – Red Grange, the Galloping Ghost from the University of Illinois. Pro football was a sideshow in the 1920s that drew sparse crowds of family and friends. But when Grange turned pro after his college career, the crowds swelled to 20,000 and 30,000 overnight.

There's an incredible amount of research by Poole in telling the tale of a football player who shared the national sporting stage back then with Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey and Bobby Jones. The legendary football names of George Halas, Jim Thorpe, Amos Alonzo Stagg, Bronko Nagurski, Fielding Yost and Ernie Nevers are weaved into the narrative. Here's what George Halas had to say about Grange's impact on pro football: "Grange was to us then what television is to the modern era."

It's also a tragic tale of how Grange was manipulated by the sport's first player agent. It's a story of how C.C. Pyle milked Grange, burned through his fortune and likely shortened his career (and window of greatness) with a ridiculous barnstorming tour after his first season as a pro that staged 10 games in 18 days, battering the American hero to a pulp.

Grange was a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the only unanimous selection by the Football Writers Association of America to its 100th anniversary college All-America team selected in 1969.

The book is a terrific read.


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