Paper Lion: Confessions of a Last-String Quarterback

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9781599218090: Paper Lion: Confessions of a Last-String Quarterback

With his characteristic insight and wit, the Harvard-educated Plimpton recounts his experiences in successfully talking his way into training camp - not as a reporter but as a player - with the Detroit Lions, practicing with the team, and actually taking snaps behind center in a preseason game.

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Review:

Through the course of a long and distinguished career in letters, George Plimpton has crafted an art form from participatory journalism, and Paper Lion is his big touchdown. In the mid-'60s, Plimpton joined the Detroit Lions at their preseason camp as a 36-year-old rookie quarterback wannabe, and stuck with the club through an intra-squad game before the paying public a month later. What resulted is one of the funniest and most insightful books ever written on the game; 30 years later it remains a major model of what was then blossoming into New Journalism. Plimpton's breezy style wonderfully captures the pressures and tensions rookies confront in trying to make it, the hijinks that pervade the atmosphere when 60 high-strung guys are forced to live together in close quarters, and the host of rites and rituals with which football loves to coat itself. Of course, Plimpton didn't make it as a football hero; he barely accounts himself with dignity on the field, which is just as well. You don't have to be a lion when you've got a typewriter that can roar.

From the Back Cover:

A thirty-six-year-old rookie quarterback wannabe, George Plimpton joined the Detroit Lions for their preseason camp and stuck with the club through an exhibition game before the paying public a month later. The result is Paper Lion, a literary masterpiece about professional football that not only elevated participatory journalism to an art form, but that also remains one of the most insightful and hilarious books ever written on the game. No holds barred in this memorable inside look at football and how the professionals play it.
Plimpton – wearing number 0 – culminates his apprenticeship by calling a series of plays in an exhibition game in Pontiac Stadium. Naturally, Plimpton didn't make it as a last-string football hero; he barely affords himself a dignified account of his performance – netting minus 29 yards in his five plays – on the field, which is just as well. What remains is an enduring classic of professional football as it looks to a first-string writer.

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