The Moment That at Once Created and Destroyed Johnny Unitas – a Book Review of The Best Game Ever by Mark Bowden

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The_Best_Game_Ever_250In an America long ago, boys, after faithfully completing their homework and their chores, once gathered in sandlots across the countryside. As leaves gently fell in the damp autumn air, they’d pick teams – always as even as possible to make it fair – and stake off a field with imaginary (or sometimes natural) markers. They’d then huddle around a spare spot of dusty dirt a few yards behind a well weathered football, draw up a play, break, snap, run, jump and laugh. This repeated endlessly, or at least someone’s mother called “Dinnertime!”

Electronics had yet to invade our youthful agenda. Except for an occasional coonskin cap, the only media (and this one was on paper) that universally influenced young boys dealt with the witty way Tom Sawyer got his friends to whitewash that fence. Even popular shows like “Howdy Doody” pointed children to outdoor activities.

That was then. Now, you sit on the edge of your seat, anxious and excited at the same time. It’s a ritual being played out all throughout the land. In living rooms, bars and just about any place capable of holding a large screen TV and a tableful of crunchy snacks, we share this national experience – the Superbowl – fanatics and neophytes alike.

Why? What fascinates us about this game? Why have television networks, advertisers and promotional campaigns paid so much to affiliate themselves with this singular event?

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