Monday, December 01, 2008

Bloomberg: The Galloping Ghost

Excellent review of The Galloping Ghost on Bloomberg News.

Nov. 28 (Bloomberg) -- How many football figures do you find on the cover of Time magazine? Not many. There’s Dick Kazmaier of Princeton. Bobby Layne of the Detroit Lions. Tom Harmon of Michigan. Knute Rockne of Notre Dame. Here’s another: Red Grange of Illinois, in jacket and tie, his face a portrait of purpose on the front of the Oct 5, 1925, issue.

Good thing he was there, too, because without that cover most Americans would never have seen Grange, who played at a time before football players became television stars. He was a roaring success in the ‘20s, and Gary Andrew Poole speaks for almost all of us when he says, in “The Galloping Ghost” (Houghton Mifflin, $25): “Red Grange played way before my time, but his ghost always hovered above the American sporting landscape.”

Exceptional players are often described as defining an era, but Grange did more. He defined a game. “If you were to draw a line through the mud of American history and find one man who could be considered the founding father of our football culture, it would be Red Grange,” Poole says. He’s right; Grange’s mastery moved football from the periphery to the center of American life.

At Illinois and later, breaking a great taboo for a squeaky- clean collegian by signing with pro teams, Grange placed an indelible footprint on the gridiron. He built up statistics that impress even eight decades later, including a fabled 1924 showdown against Michigan in which the Ghost recorded 402 net yards in only 41 minutes of play. He was, as Poole puts it, “a quiet warrior,” but his game, and impact, were loud.

Click here for the link.


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