Sunday, July 03, 2011

Book Review (#17 of 2011)

Playing with Purpose: Inside the Lives and Faith of the NFL's Top New Quarterbacks by Mike Yorkey.
My father-in-law gave me this book last year and it was nice to have a lighter read since I'm technically on vacation.

Yorkey did not interview any of the players or their families for this book and admits he knew little about them before 2003. He is working almost exclusively from other articles printed about them over their college careers, most of which are available online. (That makes it somewhat similar to a Matt Yglesias book, but not really.) He is simply compiling the information into a fairly quick read. As a result, there isn't a lot of information in this book. It could also be a lot shorter if Yorkey had left out all of his "Sam Bradford, that's who!" and "Hitler's tanks couldn't stop him," which were pure space-fillers.

About the only original tidbit Yorkey finds of his own reporting is the story of how Colt McCoy and his dad swam across a lake to rescue someone in need. He interviews some of the FCA chaplains that dealt with the players but this doesn't yield much.

Of the three players, Tebow's story is the most compelling; he is born the least likely to be a good athlete. I'm reminded that the God of the Old Testament often blessed warriors with uncanny physical prowess that did great violence to their enemies. So perhaps football is a reflection of some of God's purposes and delight in man, and Tebow is of the same mold. You find yourself pulling for Tebow to show all of his critics wrong. Colt McCoy is a nice small town coach's son and Sam Bradford was raised in an "upper class" home and blessed with further opportunity by being a natural athlete (and a scratch golfer).

All three players stand up well under enormous scrutiny and pressure, but Yorkey fleshes out little of how that looked in day-to-day life. I give this book 2.5 stars because it seems too easy to do research online and compile it into a book, after the fact. The extra half star comes from the reminder Yorkey gives us to pray for these guys.

Yorkey has another book looking at the faith of several NBA stars, which might interest you if you liked this one.

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