It’s been three months (and a day!) since the last time I did one of these, which means it’s time for a new one.
Looking over my list of the non-football books I finished in the months of July, August, and September, I find it deeply unimpressive. The clear standout is Chris Wickham’s The Inheritance of Rome, the entry in the Penguin History of Europe series covering the years 400-1000. It’s a fantastic and deeply informative book, but note the monotonicity of the Amazon reviews: it is just as much of a slog as most of the reviews indicate. Wickham jams a bunch of stuff into a goodly number of pages, because a lot of stuff happens in 600 years of human history, even if your focus is limited to a single continent. Certainly not for everyone, it pushed the boundaries of what even I consider casual reading.
A surprisingly natural follow-up to Wickham was Gordon Brown’s The Norman Conquest of Southern Italy and Sicily, which I snagged in a Kindle sale a while ago but never tried getting into until last month. Brown, a retired British diplomat (and not to be confused with Tony Brown’s Chancellor of the Exchequer), is clearly and admittedly writing a popular work based on the real work done by academic historians. For my purposes, this was not a problem. The shifting and drifting political alliances of Italy in the eleventh century, between and among multiple fractions of Normans, the Papacy, the Holy Roman Empire, the Byzantines, and, oh yeah, the natives of southern Italy made for very interesting reading about a topic I knew little about. Were I looking at the current price point of $30 for a paper copy or almost $14 for the Kindle version, though, I’m sure I never would have bought this book in the first place, so I’m thankful for the sale.
I fully concur with Arch Stanton’s review of the entry in the Penguin History of Europe series that preceded Wickham’s, The Birth of Classical Europe by Simon Price and Peter Thonemann. A far cry, in terms of depth from Wickham and Tim Blanning’s marvelous The Pursuit of Glory, it is a decent high-level introduction, but I’ve read enough full-length books on the Greeks and Romans I needed more of a comprehensive tome. It is perhaps best suited as a introductory work for people who want to start serious reading, but I found it unsatisfying.
I do not know what to say about Average Is Over by Tyler Cowen, even if I were interested in giving it a detailed review here, which I am not for a number of subject matter and philosophy-related reasons. I will, however, note I agree with former acquaintance Will Baude that I can’t decide if it is utopian or dystopian.
Read at a certain time in my life, say 15-20 years ago, Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning likely would have usefully accelerated and/or diverted my thinking from paths it took. Now, though, it just got me thinking of international development and the likely non-utility of measured happiness as a means of directing the best use of funds.
Sadly and contrary to the intention I expressed in my last non-football reading round-up, I did not begin, let alone finish War and Peace in July, or any of the other months I am briefly recapping here. I did dip my toe into Mikhail Bulgakov for the first time, reading both The Heart of a Dog and The Master and Margarita without enjoying either. The novel I enjoyed the most over the past quarter was a re-read (alas!) of Neal Stephenson’s Reamde, though even on a second look it was not nearly as important as Cryptonomicon. It did inspire me to finally start Anathem, which I have long avoided. If I manage to finish that plus at least one of War and Peace and Infinite Jest, I’ll consider the quarter just begun a successful one from a longer novel-reading standpoint.
My football-related reads, all of which I have reviewed on here in some way, shape or form, included Dan Daly’s National Forgotten League; John Sayle Watterson’s College Football: History, Spectacle, Controversy; Football Outsiders Almanac 2013; Bill Connelly’s Study Hall; Cris Carter’s Going Deep; Ben Alamar’s Sports Analytics; Michael MacCambridge’s Lamar Hunt; and Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies by Chris Kluwe. I also acquired and use, at times and for some purposes, the 2013 version of the NFL Record and Fact Book, but decided out of a combination of sloth and lack of utility not to write a review of the latest version. I’ll make more progress on the football unread list in the current quarter, while the library should be providing me copies of some of the latest football books, including among others John U. Bacon’s Fourth and Long and The System by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian.
I’ve been reading and noting what books I write on the Internet, including on sites both now gone and private, since 2004. About eight months ago, I hit the point where I more or less stopped bothering to review, even just to fix in my own mind, the books other than those that were exceptionally good (and those I generally did not even review either, because they were good enough I remembered them). I have read lately, by which I mean in the month since I posted my most recent review, several football and football-related books, none of which inspired me to write a longer review. This post’s purpose will be to be as a brief repository of my thoughts on those books.
1. Comparing my reviews relative to the total population of football books that are published, player autobiographies may be the subset thereof I am least likely to review. Perhaps this is something in a book like Growing Up Gronk I would find informative and valuable if I were to read it, but my experience with most autobiographies is the athlete’s voice is invisible, uninteresting, or both. When I picked up a copy of Going Deep: How Wide Receivers Became the Most Compelling Figures in Pro Sports, Cris Carter’s new autobiography with Jeffri Chadiha, I was unsure I would finish it, let alone review it here.
The good news then is I read it and enjoyed it. Carter had an interesting and somewhat troubled life, forced into the supplemental draft after taking money from an agent cost him his senior season at Ohio State and spending a bit too much time in Philadelphia partying and not enough learning how to be a good NFL receiver. He eventually turned his life around in Minnesota and became both a good NFL player and a pretty solid citizen. There aren’t the sort of searing revelations of debauchery in Going Deep, but you do get a hint of the darker sides of life, including Carter’s long-time estrangement from his mother.
In the addition to the story of Carter’s life, as the subtitle suggests Going Deep is an exegesis of the transformation of the wide receiver position over the past quarter-century or so, The most interesting parts of the book are probably Carter’s comments on the star receivers of the past decade, with more direct than I expected evaluations of Larry Fitzgerald, whom he’s known since his days with the Vikings, Randy Moss, and Chad Johnson, among others. I suppose I shouldn’t have been too surprised, considering Carter is now a media guy, but I’m so used to all punches being pulled that anything resembling personal evaluations, even the relatively obvious like Chad Johnson got to the point where he more or less got distracted by his celebrity, becomes a pleasant surprise. The broader theme he tries to invoke, the rise of the “diva” wideout (my term rather than his), is a tougher evaluation for me; clearly, there was a period from roughly the early 1990s through the early-mid 2000s where you had players from Michael Irvin and Andre Rison through Ochocinco, but the pendulum seems to have swung backward. Plus, even in the supposed heyday you had the very good but not necessarily prominent wide receivers, like Marvin Harrison (if Harrison had an interesting personality, he hid it well as a player).
I’ve actually been sitting on Going Deep for a couple weeks before bothering to write this review, partly to decide just how good the book was. As a non-Vikings/Eagles or Carter fan, his comments on his days there and his relationship with Buddy Ryan and Dennis Green are not particularly meaningful to me. There could be interesting things I’m missing there, just because I did not follow either team or its goings-on particularly closely. While clearly a cut above most jock autobios, I would not put it with the top ones like Instant Replay. Rather, I recommend it to the already interested.
2. I enjoyed Ben Alamar’s Sports Analytics: A Guide for Coaches, Managers, and Other Decision Makers, but the basic problem I had with it is who is its intended audience? The best answer, I think, is “people in charge of sports teams,” a group of people that does not include me. If you fit that group and are interested in thinking seriously about how to use analytics, this is probably a great book for you. The most fun I had while reading it was trying to figure out which teams and/or players he was writing about.
3. Lamar Hunt: A Life in Sports is a pleasant and expectedly well-done authorized biography of its subject by the highly reliable Michael MacCambridge.
4. Unsurprisingly, Chris Kluwe’s Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities is not really what I think of as a football book. As far as a taxonomy of books goes, it struck me as more of what I think of as a political tome, the acquisition and reading of which is an affiliational act in support of the viewpoint expressed by the author. If that describes the reasons you wish to read this book, by all means go ahead. As to me, I try to devote the time and mental energy I formerly spent on such works elsewhere.
So, I’ve been mucking around with my review of Bill Connelly’s Study Hall: College Football, Its Stats and Its Stories for about two weeks now. No, it’s not because the book sucks and I’m trying to figure out how to say it sucks without offending Bill, a colleague at Football Outsiders I may have hung out around to the point of annoyance at the 2012 Sloan Sports Analytics Conference who was kind enough to send me a review copy of his book. Those latter three things are all true (you’d have to ask Bill how annoyed he was I sat by him as we went to most, though not all, of the same panels). I noted on Twitter when I finished it I liked it. It’s just one of those books I’m having a hard time reviewing for various reasons.
The book is an overview of the modern college game, albeit from a more bloggish perspective than something like Bowls, Polls and Battered Souls, with some of the chapters adapted from previous pieces Bill had written for SB Nation. I’d read some, though perhaps not all of them, before. I had a blog-like reaction to the book, namely that I wanted to argue each and every point where he disagreed with what I thought or I didn’t think he emphasized a point enough (BCS rules being changed unitl pollsters realized they could manipulate the system good, not talking about the decline in inter-power conference matchups bad). Books I normally am not so engaged unless the author really annoys me (see, e.g., Death to the BCS).
The chapters about stats, including the ins and outs of BIll’s S&P+, were familiar stories to me; my first memory of Bill’s existence came from noting when he was writing FanPosts on SMQ after Matt Hinton’s move off blogspot to SB Nation and of course by that point I knew all about Football Outsiders and the like. Others not as familiar with Bill’s work or who have not spent time thinking about advanced football statistics may find portions of Bill’s book more valuable than I did. The valuable parts of it for me came from Bill’s conversations with a plethora of coaches, including Gene Stallings about his famous (on the internet) 1992 chart, Jim Grobe, and others, even if Bob Davie does like my bete noire, time of possession. Other college football writers are among those Bill interviews, and as much as I like the work of people like Chris Brown I heard too much of their voice.
One theme running through Study Hall that was part of the reason I struggled my review is the book felt like one of college football fandom. This is apparent from and strongest in the first chapter, titled “It’s Personal,” but Bill’s experience as a college football fan informs much of his work. That’s perfectly understandable and natural, but the tricky thing for me is college football tends to be a very affiliational type of fandom and I have precisely none of that when it comes to college football; I’m literally just sitting there watching a bunch of 18-to-22 (roughly) year olds play tackle football because I like watching tackle football rather than because I in any way care about the schools. It’s kind of a weird relationship between me and the college game, a bit like somebody who can’t eat ice cream touring an ice cream factory because they like food-manufacturing-I don’t get the calories, but I’m also kind of missing the whole point. Again, I’m not sure how fans of the affiliated type will respond to this running them; I suspect better than I did.
I noticed, I think, a couple typos, nothing too serious. I was pettily and somewhat trivially annoyed by the placement of footnotes inside punctuation, a practice I’m sure some style guide recommended but which is not the norm in any of the half-dozen works of non-fiction in my reach I checked while writing this post.
In addition to Amazon, you can buy Bill’s book in PDF form at the Football Outsiders store. In addition to FO, you can find Bill’s work at Football Study Hall and SB Nation. You also can (and should) follow him on Twitter. If you want more of a taste of the content of Study Hall, read the excerpt that was posted at FO.
FTC Disclaimer: As noted in the post, I read a review (electronic) copy of Study Hall provided by the author, who is a colleague of sorts and basically the first person I have met in person whose book I have reviewed on here (excepting the various Football Outsiders Almanacs of which I have been a co-author).
I have commented before, perhaps even on here, that there is truly very little new under the sun in college football. The tenuous relationship between the hallowed halls of academe and big-time spectator sports is in the news these days, but it’s been in the news for a century. As I like to point out, the Marx Brothers, not exactly modern entertainers, made a movie about it.
John Sayle Watterson’s College Football: History, Spectacle, Controversy details the story of this relationship and its affect upon the sport, from its earliest days through the close of the twentieth century (the book was first published in 2000). Like the fabulous America’s Game on the NFL, Watterson’s tome is much more of a sociological history than one of the game on the field. Rules changes are discussed to the extent they were part of the relationship between the game on the field and the effect of college football. That means we get extensive discussion of the crucial rules changes of the early twentieth century, including not just the introduction of the forward pass but the subsequent rules changes after those in 1905 failed to quite the expected effect on fatalities (itself a more complicated story than I thought it was), but little to none of many others. Those looking for descriptions of feats of derring-do on the gridiron will find their desires unsatisfied. The result is at times a less-than-thrilling read, even relative to America’s Game, but Watterson clearly knows his subject and did his research, both a necessary and a refreshing thing to see for the book.
The inevitable effect of any attempt to write a comprehensive and not incredibly long history is that some areas will be better covered than others, and I would rate roughly the post-1970 period as the weakest part of Watterson’s book. For a more comprehensive perspective on the modern game, I recommend supplementing it particularly Keith Dunnavant’s The Fifty-Year Seduction possibly also Michael Oriard’s Bowled Over, I book I found disappointing at the time but one that stands out more in hindsight. That limitation notwithstanding, I recommend College Football: History, Spectacle, Controversy to all college football fans with a strong interest in the history of the game.
Of all the things I struggle with on this site, the hardest may be the concept of writing a “review” of a book I co-wrote, and in whose sales I have a pecuniary interest. Football Outsiders Almanac 2013 is the ninth and latest annual installment of the season preview done by the folks at Football Outsiders, and the fourth volume of which I’ve been a co-author.
I’m not going to pretend that I’m unbiased, but I stand by what I said last year: FOA completely blows away those season preview magazines you see at your favorite periodical retail establishment and is worth more than all of them put together. Instead of two or three pages most of which was probably written before the draft, you get an in-depth essay, detailed unit comments, and player comments on individual “skill position” players covering both Football Outsiders’ advanced statistics and perspective from spending hours of time actually watching the games to provide context to the stats.
For this year’s book, I went back to my home stomping grounds of the AFC South and wrote the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans content, as well as the Arizona Cardinals essay (though not the Cardinals player comments). I’m not sure I managed to write my first great FOA chapter this year, but that’s a question best answered by other people. I’m still not as funny as Mike Tanier.
I reviewed prior editions of the annual before I became involved in writing it. The review of Pro Football Prospectus 2008 is probably still the most useful. The current edition includes more college content, including capsule previews for every BCS team and the (likeliest to be) most important non-BCS teams and projections, though unfortunately this year’s FOA does not contain any original research essays.
Football Outsiders Almanac 2013 is available on Amazon in hard copy format and as a PDF at the Football Outsiders store. The PDF is cheaper and looks great on my iPad. We changed the design a bit this year and I haven’t received my physical book yet; expect it to look more like PFP (taller, fewer pages) than FOA (squatty, more pages).
Disclosure: As a co-author, I received a free copy of the PDF version of the book and, as noted in the post, have a pecuniary interest in sales of the book.
I try to do a post like this one right after the draft, but better late than never. Every year, the Titans draft a bunch of players I know something between way too much and hardly anything at all about, then I write pessimistic, idiosyncratic, and snarky things about them. For an example of what this has looked like in this past, here is last year’s post. This post also serves a purpose for me, in giving me a roughly contemporaneous record of what I thought the Titans should do in the draft. What I do my eventual six-year draft recap post in 2019, I’ll be able to look at this post and the others I’ve written about the draft class and compliment myself on how much more prescient, incisive, and smarter I was than the people who are much better trained, spend a lot more time on it, and whose job actually depends on them being right. In other words, if you complain about my comments in this post being somehow deeply unfair and non-charitable, you’ve missed the entire point.
#1-10: G Chance Warmack, Alabama
And with their first pick in the 2013 NFL draft, the Tennessee Titans completed their surrender. As far as surrenders go, this is much more Compiegne in 1918 than the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri in 1945. The levels of surrender were multiple. First, it was a surrendering of the idea that the Titans were at all capable of drafting and developing offensive linemen, even at the relatively easier interior line spots. This idea had been eviscerated by events, but people still clung to the idea. Second, it was a surrendering of the idea that paying running backs is enough to make a good running game, let alone an offense as a whole. Backs Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene count for a combined $14.5 million and change on the Titans’ 2013 cap. Shouldn’t that much money be able to produce a quality rushing attack without also spending a lot of money (e.g., $46.6 over 6 years on Andy Levitre) and a high draft pick? Third, it’s a surrender to the idea that the next year is all that matters. The selection of Chance Warmack was completely and utterly predictable. Ruston Webster and particularly Mike Munchak need to win in 2013 to not get fired. Right guard was the biggest hole on the roster. Warmack fills that hole well. Who cares if he’s a flippin’ right guard if he fills the biggest need on the team? Who cares if right guard is probably the third-most important position on the offensive line? Who cares if the Titans’ biggest problem may be their lack of elite defensive players? Who cares if the easiest and best place to find premium defensive players is early in the draft? Who cares if Alabama players come out of school beat to hell? Who cares about the recent track record of Alabama offensive linemen? And, of course, like Compiegne, the aftermath will be a denial that a surrender was necessary or otherwise even really took place. At least here the eventual struggle won’t end up with tens of millions of people dead. (If need be, see above re snark and unfairness.) I wanted Star Lotulelei with this pick.
#2-35: WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee
I wrote, but deleted a long rant about the Hunter pick, including particularly the trade the Titans made to move up and get him. If I were being fair, I’d say the trade conformed well to the Jimmy Johnson trade chart. Thankfully, I’m not. The trade chart, including particularly the discounting of a future pick by a full round, represents a completely unwise form of hyperbolic discounting that should be completely ignored by an intelligent front office. San Francisco made the trade because they realized the Titans were willing to value that future third-round pick as a mid-fourth-rounder. They were willing to do that because they’d done a bad job of building a team and were backed into a corner, looking at a roster and seeing a need for the guy to be their Paul Warfield on the 1972 Miami Dolphins. San Francisco did a much better job, and were able to destroy the Titans because of it. Blogfriend Chase Stuart declared the 49ers to be significant winners on this trade, and I concur 100% with his take.
As to Hunter the player, well, I made the Paul Warfield comparison for a reason, the fast receiver who gets thrown 2 play-action bombs a game. Mike Tanier has written often about how the effect of Warfield is hard for current eyes to locate in a 29-606-3 statline. As I wrote before the Titans selected Kendall Wright in the first round of last year’s draft, the Titans have a Kenny Britt dilemma. Hunter will be more useful when Britt is almost certainly plying his trade elsewhere in 2014, but I’m really looking forward to that 25-428-2 this year as A Total Gamechanger. I mean, just look at what other early second-round receivers have done lately! In a world where the Titans listen to me and don’t draft Chance Warmack, I wanted Larry Warford with this pick. With Warmack off the board, I would’ve preferred the player the 49ers ended up selecting with the 40th pick the Titans gave up, Tank Carradine, or playing cornerback roulette.
#3-70: CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, UConn
Instead, the Titans put their money on cornerback roulette with the next pick. A zillion and a half (actual number: 18) defensive backs went in the second and third rounds, and aside from Johnathan Cyprien (33rd to the Jaguars, WANT) and T.J. McDonald (71st to the Rams, DO NOT WANT), I didn’t have strong feelings about any of them aside from humbly requesting the Titans draft a player who was good in the slot if they didn’t see Alterraun Verner as their slot cornerback (which I thought then and believe even stronger now they do not). Wreh-Wilson seems like a good guy. Historically, though, the second round has been a much better spot than the third to play cornerback roulette, while Marquise Goodwin, Markus Wheaton, and Terrance Williams, fast wideouts all, went in the next 10 picks.
#3-97: LB Zaviar Gooden, Missouri
Or, “we don’t have a backup weakside linebacker and we need one.” See above re surrendering and drafting for 2013 needs, even relatively minor ones. I had mostly lost track of the draft board at this point and did not have strong feelings on whom the Titans should have selected here, aside from liking Alex Okafor enough that I would have been willing to overlook his Texas pedigree at this point in the draft. See above re need for good defensive players.
#4-107: C Brian Schwenke, California
Every year I’ve done this, I say all sorts of unkind things about most of the picks and then I say some relatively nice things about one or a few of the picks. So, nice things. This pick reminds me of how the Titans used to do things on the offensive line, before they started drafting guards in the top ten. Fernando Velasco had a decent enough year and is in place for 2013 on a restricted free agent deal, but they don’t need to commit to him. Schwenke wasn’t the first center off the board, but a lot of people liked him as the top center in the draft. May never make an All-Pro or even a Pro Bowl, but pencil him in as the starter for 2014 through 2022 or so. He was also the player I wanted the Titans to take in this spot.
#5-142: DE Lavar Edwards, LSU
I tweeted after Day Two of the draft concluded that the Titans seemed to like their defensive linemen more than I liked their defensive linemen. Well, they finally addressed the position here. I hadn’t watched Edwards particularly before the draft, but he was the third LSU defensive end off the board. Normally that would be a red flag, but Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery isn’t a bad pair to go behind. I had no issues with this pick and no particular priorities for what the Titans should do with it.
#6-202: CB Khalid Wooten, Nevada
As much as I didn’t try to distinguish the second- and third-round defensive backs, I spent even less time before the draft trying to distinguish the players who would be drafted later. I’m not sure I watched an entire Nevada game in 2012, and if I did I certainly didn’t pay enough attention to notice Wooten. I noted in last year’s post the Titans had at least in the past earned a certain degree of deference with their third day corner selections. I’m not sure that applies, especially now, but getting exercise over sixth-round picks is not my idea of a good use of time.
#7-248: S Daimion Stafford, Nebraska
The difference between the bottom of the seventh round and a priority free agent is minimal, so I’m not sure if a selection of Stafford meant the Titans liked Stafford or just thought he was a better option at safety relative to the UDFA options at safety relative to the other players at other positions relative to the UDFA options at those positions. The second half of the preceding sentence may make more sense if presented in graphical format, but it’s not important enough for me to make such a graphic. Unlike Wooten, I did notice Stafford in college and, well, he was a seventh-round pick for a reason. I thought getting a developmental strong safety type should be a priority for the Titans, but the draft sometimes falls in a way that you don’t get everything you want.
Just for the record, here were my pre-draft percentage chances of the Titans drafting a player at each position, along with the number of players the Titans actually drafted at each position:
QB: 10% (0)
RB: 40% (0)
WR: 25% (1)
TE: 20% (0)
OT: 30% (0)
OG/C: 100% for 1, 50% for 2+ (2)
DE: 85% (1)
DT: 70% (0)
LB: 80% (1)
CB: 90% (2)
S: 80% (1)
Obviously the Hunter pick threw me, as did their lack of interest in an upgrade at defensive tackle in a good year to do so. Aside from that, they picked the positions I thought they’d pick for the second year in a row.
When I reviewed Pro Football Chronicle, a great data dump on the first seven decades of the NFL by Dan Daly and Bob O’Donnell, just short of four years ago, I noted its 1990 publication date and the need for a new edition. In National Forgotten League: Entertaining Stories and Observations from Pro Football’s First Fifty Years, which came out last fall, Daly delivered not that book but something even harder, more useful, and more impressive, a research dump on not the two most recent decades of NFL football but the league’s first half century with plenty of information that was new even to me. The tale of Sid Luckman’s father rather stands out in that regard.
Like Chronicle, Forgotten is not a single narrative but instead a series of brief vignettes told over one or a couple pages. That makes it hard to summarize or, for me, write an interesting extended review off of; compare, say, The Missing Ring, in which I took the normal book reviewer’s trick of writing about not the book but the book’s subject. Instead, I’ll take note of one of Daly’s vignettes. In the chapter on the 1950s, Daly covers what he calls the Last Sleeper Play. The Sleeper Play, a.k.a. the Hideout Play, is the old trick where a receiver would fake going out of the game, then stop by the sidelines. It was particularly effective late in games in ill-lit stadiums, though Daly notes the Bears used it in daylight in 1932 by taking advantage of the lineman. The Rams pulled it off on the first play from scrimmage in 1954. Commissioner Bert Bell declared the play “unsportsmanlike” and illegal. All done, right?
Well, mostly. Article 5-2-5 of the NFL Rulebook covers the basic situation, requiring offensive substitutes to “move onto the field of play or the end zone as far as the inside of the field numerals prior to the snap to be a legal substitution.” 5-2-5 carries with it a Note, “The intent of the rule is to prevent teams from using simulated substitutions to confuse an opponent, while still permitting a player(s) to enter and leave without participating in a play in certain situations …”
I don’t have old NFL rulebooks, but I’d bet the Note that applies to 5-2-5 was added, or at least modified, after 2006. The reason for the change, I believe, was a simple one and stems from the Titans-Colts game in Indianapolis in Week 6 of that 2006 season. The Titans had the ball at their own 32 with :03 to play in the first half. Most teams would take a knee in that situation, especially holding a 10-0 lead on the road in a game where they were a 17-point underdog. Jeff Fisher, though, ran the modern version of the Sleeper Play. Unfortunately, I don’t have video of this game to refresh my memory, but as best I can recall it went something like this. Wideout Drew Bennett joined the rest of his teammates in the huddle. As the offense broke the huddle, he started trotting toward the Titans’ sideline, with Fisher apparently exhorting him to get off the field. As he neared the sidelines, though, the Titans’ intent became clear. They snapped the ball and Bennett took off up the sidelines. The Colts, knowing the Titans needed to score on one play, had defenders well back. As I noted in my (terrible) breakdown (#9), future Titan Nick Harper obstructed Bennett’s route and Mike Doss came down with the interception. I believe the NFL league office that week issued a clarification that simulated substitutions like the one Fisher tried would also be considered illegal, and the Sleeper Play returned to its grave, at least until the next coach gets creative and tries to resurrect it.
National Forgotten League is probably not for everybody, but if you’re at all a fan of pro football history I strongly recommend it.