Of Mikes and Men

Forget glamour, white lights, and coast-to-coast coverage. The pre-World War II National Football League was, as they say, strictly from Peoria. The NFL has traveled far since those backwater years. Of Mikes and Men (Diamond Communications, 1998, 307 pages, $24.95) tells the NFL’s odyssey through the words of its broadcast play-by-play and color mikemen.

Radio helped professional football lure an early following. This book evokes those roots — and how television later made the NFL our pastime and passion. In this anthology, author Curt Smith assembles stories by football’s wizards of the microphone about owners, players, coaches, colleagues, sponsors, and themselves.

Enjoy tales about pro football’s greatest games — funny and dramatic moments behind and beyond the microphone — a mix of name and image that helped the NFL swap anonymity for prime time. Read Thom Brennaman on Anthony Munoz scorching Buddy Ryan. Tom Jackson recalls doing his first Super Bowl telecast — in his underwear. The legendary Chuck Thompson tells how John Unitas stunned Big Daddy Lipscomb by pulling fish from a restaurant tank.

Drawing fans to the stadium, in person, or by radio/TV, the Voices in this book shaped the way generations experience the game. Of Mikes and Men shares their recollections — many told expressly for this book — about subjects as diverse as the early American Football League, Vince Lombardi, and Tom Landry, cable television, life on the road, and the future of pro football. Read Ken Coleman discuss Jimmy Brown; Joe Buck, today’s TV; Chris Schenkel, the first America’s Team; Bob Costas, studio v. play-by-play work; and Curt Gowdy, the “Heidi Game.”

With their unique styles of speech, cadence, and catch phrase, NFL broadcasters have become our friends — conveying the excitement, celebrating victory, and commiserating in defeat. Of Mikes and Men invites these friends into our living rooms once more.

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