To get through this book without a barf bag, you should really be a Patriots fan. It helps if you're an unrepentant, sycophantic, slavering, rabid, completely closed-minded Tom Brady fan. You know, like me.
This book lays it on thick in places. Okay, in a lot of places. Like when the book itself--not just the teammates and coaches and family members it quotes--starts referring to him as "Tommy." Tommy this, Tommy that. This book is Brady-worship of the highest order.
Which, of course, I appreciate. But still. Be forewarned.
I thought Chad Finn also had a good, if painful, criticism about the way the book is written in general: "his writing level exceeds my pea-brained comprehension by such a great distance that sometimes I can't see his point with a telescope." It's true that Pierce can get a little too caught up in his own turns of phrase, the themes he's developing, and they are definitely hit-or-miss.
In my opinion, though, when they hit, they hit. I particularly enjoyed the little threads woven through the book, the anecdotes of crazy coincidence and irony over about a decade in the history of the football business, which are told more convincingly and to greater effect when they are unraveled bit by bit than if they were simply stated factually, all at once. In particular, I loved the story of Raymond Berry, Johnny Unitas, and the play they worked on for years--and used exactly once. And I also thought the punchline to the story of Mike Riley, the coach who first tried to recruit Brady to USC, and who later encounters him on the staff of the San Diego Chargers, was worth the price of admission. And--to name just one more example--the way the story of the first meeting between Brady and Bob Kraft is told, through two "angles", thirty pages apart, is mastferful.
And you know...sometimes the book is cheesy. Sometimes it's overwrought. Certain stylistic tics of Pierce's become irritating, like the number of times he returns to the phrase "The problem with metaphors..." in the first half of the book, or his insistence on referring to Brady's family's street in San Mateo as "The Avenue of the Fleas" rather than its actual, Spanish name.
But football, in my opinion, needs more flowery language. It can never muster the number of trees felled in praise of baseball, but for it to have more emotionally intended, sociologically analytical and respectably written books representing it on the shelf would be a step in the right direction. Football is a beautiful game, its machinations as indicative of our deep unconscious yearnings as any tragically nostalgic baseball game in mid-August, and its icons as important to their generation as the Babe. But it doesn't get the credit. It doesn't get the play. Schmoopy or not, football could use more books like this.