Best Plays of the Year 1962 and Best Plays of the Year 1963 by Robert Riger (Prentice-Hall, 1962 and 1963). Riger was the preeminent photojournalist of the 1950s and 1960s, equally skilled at both photography and illustration. His most famous football book, The Pros, was published in 1960. Two years later, he produced the first of two annual “documentaries” of a season in the NFL. The 1962 volume begins with the 1961 championship game and then goes week by week in 1962, covering one game per week. Packer games include 17-0 over the Cardinals in week two, 9-7 over the Lions in week four, 49-0 over the Eagles in week nine and the Thanksgiving Day Massacre by the Lions. The 1962 title game is not included. In the 1963 volume, which starts off on opening day and ends with the 1963 title game, a week six 30-7 victory over the Cardinals and the week ten 26-7 loss to Chicago are covered. The photos and illustrations are accompanied by Riger’s text and interviews that provide excellent insight into the players, coaches and games of the time.
One More July: A Football Dialogue with Bill Curry by George Plimpton (Harper & Row, 1977). Plimpton befriended Bill Curry when the participatory journalist “tried out” for the Colts in 1971. In 1976, Plimpton drove with Curry from Louisville to Green Bay where he was slated to try to extend his playing career where it had begun in 1965. Along the way, the two men discuss the characters and events of Curry’s football career. Although Curry was only a Packer for two years, men like Lombardi and Nitschke figure prominently in his recollections but not always very positively.
Ten Men You Meet in the Huddle: Lessons from a Football Life by Bill Curry (ESPN Books, 2008). Curry had a second go at his football memories thirty years later. Now a motivational speaker following a long playing and coaching career, Curry is able to come to a much clearer view of the giant figures he encountered in his life. Four Packers – Lombardi, Starr, Nitschke and Willie Davis – earn their own chapters for imparting life lessons for Curry. This book abounds with brilliant and poignant insights.
The Ultimate Super Bowl Book by Bob McGinn (MVP Books, 2009). McGinn, the longtime, analytical Packer beat man for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, is known for having great sources and having the ability to write knowledgably about the intricacies of the game. He brings that in-depth analysis to each Super Bowl in this best book ever on America’s greatest game. Of particular interest, of course, are the chapters on the Packers’ Super Bowl teams. A 2012 updated edition covers the 2010 championship Packers’ Super Bowl trip as well.
The Birth of Football’s Modern 4-3 Defense: The Seven Seasons that Changed the NFL by T.J. Troup (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014). This book is the apotheosis of film study of the game that was. Through his intensive examination of game films from 1953-59, Troup is able to write an informative chapter on each NFL team for each of those seven seasons as the defensive schemes evolved into the modern 4-3 defense. Along the way, the reader not only learns who played each year at every position, but how well they played. Dense with data, it’s a research tour de force that yields valuable nuggets on every page. The 1950s were not a golden era in Green Bay, but this book fully explains what was lacking.
Custom Curry cards are colorized. I replaced the 1966 card that was originally here because my friend Bob Faber thought it might not actually be a shot of Curry. Upon reflection, I am inclined to believe him. I apologize for the error.