Benny Friedman and the Transformation of Football
By (author) Murray Greenberg
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Passing Game by Murray Greenberg
Book DescriptionBenny Friedman, the son of working class immigrants in Clevelands Jewish ghetto, arrived at the University of Michigan and transformed the game of football forever. At the time, in the 1920s, football was a dull, grinding running game, and the forward pass was a desperation measure. Benny would change all of that. In Ann Arbor, the rookie quarterbacks passing abilities so eclipsed those of other players that legendary coach Fielding Yost came back from retirement to coach him. The other college teams had no answer for Friedmans passing attack. He then went pro-an unpopular decision at a time when the NFL was the poor stepchild to college football-and was equally sensational, eventually signing with the New York Giants for an unprecedented $10,000, bringing fans and attention to the fledgling NFL. Passing Game rediscovers this little-known sports hero and tells the story of Friedmans evolution from upstart to American celebrity, in a vivid narrative that will delight and enlighten football fans of all ages.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9781586484774
(236mm x 156mm x 30mm)
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
Publish Date: 6-Nov-2008
Country of Publication: United States
US Kirkus Review » First-time author Greenberg chronicles the overlooked football career of one of the sport's genuine innovators.Just as Paul Arizin's perfection of the jump shot changed the game of basketball, Benny Friedman's invention of the forward pass changed football. During the sport's first Golden Age, when names like Grange, Nevers and Nagurski glittered, and the melon-sized ball made it difficult and the rules made it risky, the forward pass played a distinctly minor role in any team's offense. Under Michigan's legendary coach Fielding Yost, Friedman, a fitness fanatic, used his strength and accuracy to do unprecedented things with the ball. Named to the 1925 All-America team for his trademark passing, trick plays and lightning strikes, he became a Jewish sports icon, second only to boxer Benny Leonard. Friedman repeated his college success in the nascent professional game, leading the league in 1928 in both passing and rushing touchdowns, a feat never accomplished before or since. Giants' owner Tim Mara purchased the entire Detroit Wolverines team just to get Friedman to New York, where his ethnicity and exciting brand of play had special box-office appeal. In college Friedman played in the first game ever broadcast live on radio. In a special pro exhibition he played and starred in the final game Knute Rockne ever coached. After arguably saving pro ball in the nation's largest city, Friedman went on to a modestly successful coaching career, reviving the football program at CCNY and inaugurating one at Brandeis University. Greenberg capably negotiates the on-field exploits of this football pioneer, explaining Friedman's athletic brilliance and importance, but the author doesn't quite penetrate the carapace of the aloof man that George Halas said "revolutionized football." After a series of debilitating operations and illnesses, Friedman took his own life in 1982. He was belatedly elected to the Hall of Fame in 2005, a snub some attributed to anti-Semitism, others to electors offended by Friedman's unseemly campaign for the honor. Regardless, Greenberg sets an unimpeachable case on behalf of this essentially unknowable man.Will surprise even those who think they know the game. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Murray Greenberg
Murray Greenberg is a former litigator and graduate of Brandeis University (where Benny Friedman was the first athletic director and only football coach), as well as Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
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