Picks and Pans Review: Football

UPDATED 01/19/1987 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 01/19/1987 at 01:00 AM EST

photographs by Walter Iooss Jr.; text by Dan Jenkins

Iooss and Jenkins are SPORTS ILLUSTRATED alumni who have since moved on to what Jenkins might call semi-real life. They are among the best chroniclers of American sports. They have worked together before. One of the Iooss photographs is of such an occasion—the Tennessee-Georgia game on Sept. 14, 1968, the first college football game played on artificial turf. ("A sad Saturday for football traditionalists," notes a caption.) Iooss is possessed of a sense of timing equal to that of the best of the athletes he has photographed: A shot of O.J. Simpson walking off the field after his last college game for USC at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 1968, for example, captures a rare moment. Simpson looks pensive, as if he's contemplating his future, while everyone around him—fans and teammates alike—seems to be regarding him with awe. Jenkins, of course, has become the goodest of the good ole boy journalists, the kind who cites with approval old-timer Sammy Baugh's assessment of the rugged early days of pro football: "We thought it beat workin'." As Jenkins' rambling reminiscences complement boss's pictures of everyone from kids in a Vermont school yard to the Super Bowl, the best thing about the book is its attitude. These two men are concerned with the ways in which football remains a game—not character building, not big business, not a metaphor for war, not the moral equivalent of anything other than a bunch of people having a good time. (Abrams, $29.95)

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