Read and React: Eli Manning: The Making of a Quarterback

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Sometimes reading can be boring, especially if the topic is uninteresting or the writing is dull. Luckily for all of you STACK athletes out there, we've got the inside scoop on some terrific sports books—titles that will not only interest but inspire you. In this weekly feature, STACK previews books designed to help you improve your game both on and off the field.

Eli Manning: The Making of a Quarterback
Ever wonder what life is like inside the Manning family, or how intense the pressure to perform feels in the media capital of the universe? Only one Man(ning) knows, and Eli tells it all in this book of the week.

In Eli Manning: The Making of a Quarterback, New York Giants beat reporter Ralph Vacchiano takes readers from their armchair quarterback position into the life of the Giants' outstanding starting QB. The book includes commentary from and interviews with numerous scouts, coaches and players, including the title character. Vacchiano writes about Eli's playing days at Ole Miss, the tension-filled moments of the 2004 NFL Draft, his first few years in the NFL in the shadow of his older brother, Peyton, and even Eli's inside scoop on the last few seconds of Super Bowl XLII.

STACK's Take: A great holiday gift for any Giants or Manning fan, this behind-the-scenes account is full of inside info that only Eli's teammates, coaches and family members know about. Vacchiano examines all aspects of life as an NFL QB, including how one deals with the pressure to win and the glare of publicity.


This title won't make it onto the holiday wish lists of diehard Duke Blue Devils, but it's definitely a must-read for all Jayhawk and Tar Heel fans.

How much do you know about Roy Williams, the third winningest coach in NCAA history (Kansas, 1988-2003; North Carolina (2003-present)? Do you think great players came knocking on his door and two national championships fell into his lap? That's far from the truth.

Coach Williams' autobiography, written with co-author Tim Crothers, reveals how basketball was the saving grace for a kid growing up in a troubled home. At a young age, Williams was taught by his coaches to never back down and to always work hard—the same values he imparts to his players—on the court and in life.

Williams details his decision to turn down a full scholarship and instead work five jobs so he could attend and play for UNC. He also discusses his relationship with some of the best basketball players of all time, including James Worthy and Michael Jordan. Williams shares his most difficult times as a coach and why he chose to leave Lawrence, Kansas for Chapel Hill.

STACK's Take: If you learn nothing else from this book, internalize its main message. Reading how hard work helped Williams overcome adversity and achieve Hall of Fame success as a coach, you can't help being impressed and inspired.


Networks such as ESPN, ABC and CBS broadcast a very small portion of the sports world. They focus mainly on well financed pro teams in high profile sports, featuring multi-million-dollar athletes performing in large arenas and stadiums filled with thousands of people rooting for the home team. They generally ignore non-mainstream sporting events. This week's book pick gives readers a glimpse of what the big-time networks are missing.

No Dribbling the Squid: Octopush, Shin Kicking, Elephant Polo, and Other Oddball Sports
Authors Michael J. Rosen and Ben Kassoy went around the world to discover more than 70 "oddball sports" that people never see on TV—some of the most outlandish sporting events ever conceived—then compiled their findings in a fun-to-read manual profiling each one.

From extreme mountain unicycling and outhouse races to underwater hockey ("octopush") and chess boxing, the book is filled with wacky and wonderful activities in which anyone can participate, regardless of their athletic ability. Complete with photos, game descriptions, tips and rules, this book is a sure cure for boredom in any season.

STACK's Take: These sports are crazy. Honestly, who wants to compete in a shin-kicking contest? How do you train for that? However, rather than sit on your couch and watch other people be active, try some of the sports that look like fun and are probably worth playing, like Japanese Team Snowball Fighting or Bicycle Polo.


When the curtain comes down on your athletic career, what will you do? Reminisce about the glory days and relive your past exploits? Or go out and experience some of the world's greatest sporting events? To help you decide, take a look at this week's STACK book selection.

The 100 Sporting Events You Must See Live: An Insider's Guide to Creating the Sports Experience of a Lifetime

As the founder of TSE Sports & Entertainment (now Premiere Corporate Events), a global leader in sports event travel, author Robert Tuchman has spent years traveling to and attending sports events. From the Masters to the Little League World Series, Tuchman has compiled a list of the top 100 events that audiences must see live. Watching events like an Ohio State-Michigan football game or the NCAA Final Four live and in person is completely different from watching them on TV. You get to be up close to the action, soak in the atmosphere and appreciate the beauty of the event as it unfolds before your eyes.

For each of his top 100 must-see events, Tuchman provides a brief history, explains why it's special, and tells where to buy tickets, book a hotel and make other travel arrangements. He even recommends local restaurants he thinks are perfect for some pre-game grub. This is a complete guide, with lots of ideas to help you start planning your next 100 vacation.

STACK's Take:  Start mowing lawns and washing cars to save up for this adventure, because it won't come cheap. Although some events are free and open to the public, most will cost you significant coin. Tuchman's book is a great resource though. I have to admit that I've attended only one of his top 100, but now that I have the list, there's no turning back.


Lance: The Making of the World's Greatest Champion

"Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever."        —Lance Armstrong

All athletes should take this quote to heart. Quitters don't belong in any sport, and this week's book selection strongly affirms that idea.

Love him or hate him, you have to give the guy credit for what he's done. Besides racing and winning one Tour event after another, Lance Armstrong has brought cancer awareness and research funding to a whole new level through his LIVESTRONG Foundation.

Author John Wilcockson tells the story of this brash Texan with the win-or-die-trying attitude, and how he became the greatest rider in the world through personal devotion to goals and with the help and support of his family and close friends—not illegal substances. Wilcockson also writes about the pains and obstacles Armstrong overcame, which gave him the strength to ride out victorious. As successful as he's been so far, you can bet that Lance hasn't yet crossed his final finish line.

STACK's Take: We know that most STACK athletes are not cycling enthusiasts; but the message of Lance's career to date—never backing down and never believing others when they say it can't be done—should resonate with all of us. The will to win can drive an athlete past the pain and up to the next level. This book is all about having that will and wanting it more than anyone else.


More Than a Coach: What it Means to Play for Coach, Mentor, and Friend Jim Tressel
This isn't just a tell-all about the career of Ohio State head football coach, Jim Tressel. Author David Lee Morgan Jr. takes readers into the heart and mind of one of today's greatest college football coaches by exploring the ideals and morals that Coach Tressel passes on to his athletes. More than 50 former players relate what Tressel taught them and how he helped prepare them for their futures after hanging up their cleats.

STACK's Take: Although it's heavily infused with scarlet and grey, More Than a Coach is not just for avid Buckeye fans. It's a great book for players and coaches of all ages who appreciate the importance of being a person of character, in the game and in life.

Training Camp: What The Best Do Better Than Everyone Else
Training Camp, by Jon Gordon, tells the inspirational story of Martin Jones, an undrafted rookie trying to make it to the NFL. Spending his entire life trying to prove critics wrong, Jones finds a coach who shares the secrets of success and what the best of the best—like Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning—focus on to make it to the top. Whatever your sport—football, volleyball, even skateboarding—you can learn from Training Camp's lessons, as they apply to anyone striving to be number one.


Everyone Hates a Ball Hog, But They All Love a Scorer
Everyone loves winning, and everyone loves a teammate who can score in the clutch; but when a player transforms from a scoring predator to a filthy ball hog, team unity can fall apart. Just look at Teen Wolf's Scott Howard.

To help separate the shooters from the scorers, try hitting up this recommended reading: Everyone Hates a Ball Hog, But They All Love a Scorer, by Coach Koran Godwin, founder of

Coach Godwin's book offers a complete guide to being a team player, both on and off the court. He discusses his philosophy about basketball and life and offers advice on being a good teammate, drawn from his experiences as a former player and all-time leading scorer at the University of North Florida. Other topics include how to score with your head, not just your feet; the importance of studying film; prioritizing your life off the court; and how to use basketball to excel in life.

Thinking Body, Dancing Mind
Taosports for extraordinary performance in athletics, business, and life

No, this is not a book about learning how to dance—although dancers could benefit from a few of the chapters. Authors Chungliang Al Huang and Jerry Lynch combine eastern philosophy with western athletics to reveal the secret to success, not only on the athletic field, but in the game of life. The authors' main objective is to teach believing in a positive approach in all aspects of life. Chapters focus on individual problem solving, allowing readers to examine only the sections they want to explore further. For added emphasis, the authors sprinkle in examples of former professional athletes who personify the idea that positive thinking works.
Big Green Inspiration
How does a team go from worst in the league to kings of the court in just one season? That's the story told by former Boston Globe columnist Peter May in Top of the World: The Inside Story of the Boston Celtics' Amazing One-Year Turnaround to Become NBA Champions, out 10/27.

May delivers an inside account of the 2008 season from the players and coaches who made it happen, including coach Doc Rivers, MVP Paul Pierce, KG, Ray Allen and many others.

Whether your losing streak has lasted a few days, weeks or seasons, May's in-depth look at the dream season of a storied franchise, in which the Celts won 42 more games than they did the previous year, will inspire you and your team to work harder, train better and become the team you know you can be.

T.O.'s latest book: Finding Fitness
If working out is a religion for you and your teammates, consider T.O. your preacher. The wide receiver's new book, T.O.'s Finding Fitness: Making the Mind, Body, and Spirit Connection for Total Health, has got what you and your congregation need to hit the next level.

"People have always looked at me and asked what I do to stay in shape. I thought, 'I need to write a book,'" says Dallas Cowboy Terrell Owens. So that's what he did, sharing the plan that took him from "lanky" and "unexceptional" to one of the biggest threats in the NFL. Whether you play football or golf, and whether you're looking to build muscle or lose fat, you'll benefit from the book's detailed plans and diet secrets.

Head Games
Injuries are considered a test of manhood: the sooner you can recover, the tougher you are. When your bell gets rung during a rowdy play, you try to shake it off then and there. If you can't, you stagger to the sidelines with every intention of getting back on the field before the next first down. Your game is needed out there; and, besides, you know that when one teammate falls, they can all fall. Tension can mount, chemistry can dissipate and problems can arise.

To prevent injuries from affecting your team, you need to know the risks and dangers of returning to the field before you're fully recovered—especially when the injury involves your head.

In his new book, Head Games: Football's Concussion Crisis (Drummond Publishing Group, Oct. 2006), Christopher Nowinski, a former Harvard football player, WWE wrestler and the victim of a career-ending head injury, exposes the truth behind football concussions. He talks about many NFL stars, including Troy Aikman, Steve Young and Merril Hoge, whose stellar careers were cut short by head injuries; and he offers insights on how football can be changed to prevent others from suffering the same fate. The book, which is directed toward players, parents and coaches, also explains how to identify a concussion and when it's safe to return to the field.

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