Picks and Pans Review: One Knee Equals Two Feet

updated 09/22/1986 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/22/1986 01:00AM

by John Madden with Dave Anderson

Madden, the former Oakland Raiders coach, is one of the most enjoyable of TV football announcers, with all his "Boom!", "Hey!" and "Whack!" exuberance. He is characteristically chatty in this book, offering both personal anecdotes and technical observations in a position-by-position rundown of how a pro team is put together. Like most former sports personalities who have turned commentators, he tends to cheat the fan by misplacing his loyalties. He writes, for instance, "I've seldom seen a player who's truly tough on the field act tough off the field." That raises a question about which players he might have seen who put up a tough facade off the field but then wilted in competition, yet Madden ignores the curiosity of the reader who's paying his royalties. He also recalls with some admiration a play in which the old Buffalo Bills fullback, Cookie Gilchrist, blocked an opposing linebacker "so hard, the linebacker went into convulsions." This sort of brute thinking can hardly be considered the most enviable part of the coach's mentality. Hardcore fans will nonetheless find the book enlightening at times. Madden provides a variety of insider's details, pointing out, for example, that quarterbacks often tip off where they are planning to throw a pass by the way they hold their shoulders as they drop back. He also names groups of players he says are the best he has seen at various positions. As Madden acknowledges, he probably names a disproportionate number of his own former Raiders, but only one player, running back Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears, is singled as the best. (Villard, $16.95)

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