New York Mark Kriegel Namath: A Biography

ISBN 13: 9780670033294

Namath: A Biography

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( 527 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780670033294: Namath: A Biography

In between Babe Ruth and Michael Jordan there was Joe Namath, one of the very few sports heroes who transcended their game. The son of a Hungarian immigrant, Namath left the steel country of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, for the Deep South, where he played quarterback for Bear Bryant at the University of Alabama. Almost four years later, he signed a $427,000 contract with the New York Jets that changed football forever, transforming a crude, violent game into show business. Namath became the most glamorous athlete in America––his fame nurtured by the age of television, the point spread, and the sexual revolution. His hair, his draft deferment, and his white shoes became symbols for a generation. But it was his "guarantee" of victory in Super Bowl III that ensured his legend.

In the tradition of Richard Ben Cramer’s Joe DiMaggio, David Maraniss’s A Life of Vince Lombardi, and Nick Tosches’s Dino, Mark Kriegel details Namath’s journey from steeltown pool halls to the upper reaches of American celebrity––and beyond. He renders Namath as an athlete and a man, a brave champion and a wounded soul. Here are Namath’s complex relationships with pain and fame plus his appearances in pantyhose ads, on The Simpsons, and Nixon’s Enemies List. Namath is not just for football fans, but for any reader interested in the central role of sports in American culture.

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From the Inside Flap:

Praise for NAMATH: A Biography by Mark Kriegel

Avoiding the pitfalls of mythology while telling a larger-than-life story is never easy, but Kriegel does it grandly in this landmark portrait of the 1960s icon. From the segregated South to the era of showbiz sports, Namath has a Forrest Gump-like way of being there. All the important athletic moments are here, elegantly told: his hardscrabble western Pennsylvania upbringing; his unlikely pairing with Bear Bryant; his arrival in New York as a hard-partying, money-making star and, of course, the win in SuperBowl III. Namath comes off both as throwback (he played through unbearable pain) and hypermodern (40 years ago, he was already getting paid to wear certain brands of clothing). But to write of the first media- age sports star is to tell not just of an athlete but the changing nature of celebrity and society in the ‘60s – that is, the story of modern America – and the author manages the elusive trick of illuminating setting as much as subject. He documents how sports became both big business and pop culture through savvy TV deals and the merchandising of stars. If Namath feels like a distant figure, more statue around whom society scrambled to adjust itself than active change seeker, that’s because Kriegel convinces us he was – a figure both epic and accidental in a world revolving too fast for one person to control. Kreigel has written a remarkable book: a feel-good sports story still abundant with insight and social commentary.

Forecast: Football books can be as vulnerable as a quarterback’s extremities, but this will cross fluidly into pop culture – as has Namath himself. Expect adulation and sales. (Publisher’s Weekly, Starred Review)

"Mark Kriegel has written an extraordinary biography of an extraordinary American. Here is Joe Namath in roaring stadiums, in sleazy Broadway dives, in the company of many women and a few mob guys, and lighting up every room he enters. We see him become an essential figure in that social revolution called the Sixties, a time of much sex, laughter and booze. But we also see the private Namath, enduring physical pain and, as he ages, much private anguish. The research is deep, the context illuminating. In the end, this is not a sports book at all, but the story of a gifted, reckless American, in a book as layered as any fine novel."
--Pete Hamill author of Forever and A Drinking Life

"Mark Kriegel doesn't just cover the Namath of mythic memory, he restores to the man his place, his time, and a story so taut and true it pulls at your heart."
--Richard Ben Cramer, author of Joe DiMaggio: The Hero's Life and How Israel Lost: The Four Questions

"I am the same age as Joe Namath. He has been the alter-ego to all males in our generation since our teens, doing what we would have done if we were rich, famous, could throw a football on a straight line and knew Ann Margaret personally. To read Mark Kriegel's book is to learn what we would have gained - and, alas, would have lost - if we were wearing Joe Willie's white shoes. Fascinating stuff. Fascinating book."
--Leigh Montville author of Ted Williams: Biography of an American Hero

"A fine and rare job of bringing forth the seasons of a man's life."
--Nick Tosches, author of Dino and The Devil and Sonny Liston

"The Namath who emerges here is an appealing mix of swagger and insecurity. This is an intelligent, carefully crafted portrait of an American sports icon and an insightful look at how the world of celebrity works."
-Wes Lukowsky, Booklist

"Meaty biography...detailed work...Kriegel has also uncovered a lot of terrific backstory...Namath was no angel, thank goodness, but this evocative portrait shows him at play in the fields of magic."
--Kirkus

From the Back Cover:

"Mark Kriegel has written an extraordinary biography of an extraordinary American. Here is Joe Namath in roaring stadiums, in sleazy Broadway dives, in the company of many women and a few mob guys, and lighting up every room he enters. We see him become an essential figure in that social revolution called the Sixties, a time of much sex, laughter and booze. But we also see the private Namath, enduring physical pain and, as he ages, much private anguish. The research is deep, the context illuminating. In the end, this is not a sports book at all, but the story of a gifted, reckless American, in a book as layered as any fine novel."
--Pete Hamill author of Forever and A Drinking Life

"Mark Kriegel doesn't just cover the Namath of mythic memory, he restores to the man his place, his time, and a story so taut and true it pulls at your heart."
--Richard Ben Cramer, author of Joe DiMaggio: The Hero's Life and How Israel Lost: The Four Questions

"I am the same age as Joe Namath. He has been the alter-ego to all males in our generation since our teens, doing what we would have done if we were rich, famous, could throw a football on a straight line and knew Ann Margaret personally. To read Mark Kriegel's book is to learn what we would have gained - and, alas, would have lost - if we were wearing Joe Willie's white shoes. Fascinating stuff. Fascinating book."
--Leigh Montville author of Ted Williams: Biography of an American Hero

"A fine and rare job of bringing forth the seasons of a man's life."
--Nick Tosches, author of Dino and The Devil and Sonny Liston

"The Namath who emerges here is an appealing mix of swagger and insecurity. This is an intelligent, carefully crafted portrait of an American sports icon and an insightful look at how the world of celebrity works."
--Wes Lukowsky, Booklist

"Meaty biography... detailed work... Kriegel has also uncovered a lot of terrific backstory... Namath was no angel, thank goodness, but this evocative portrait shows him at play in the fields of magic."
-- Kirkus

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