The Best Game Ever: Colts vs. Giants, 1958, and the Birth of the Modern NFL

Mark Bowden, Author . Atlantic Monthly $23 (279p) ISBN 978-0-87113-988-7

Bowden (Black Hawk Down ; Guests of the Ayatollah ) tells the story of the 1958 National Football League championship game between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants, a legendary game that proved to be a harbinger of the enormous popularity of pro football over the next 50 years. Bowden writes that the game featured the greatest assemblage of talent ever on one field, including 17 future Hall of Fame inductees. He frames the picture with a wide lens, but then focuses on the roles and lives of a few key players, particularly the Colts’ obsessive and methodical wide receiver Raymond Berry and the iconic quarterback Johnny Unitas, as well as the Giants’ powerful linebacker Sam Huff. The game, played in frigid Yankee Stadium three days after Christmas, stretched into the evening, garnering the largest television audience in the history of the sport to that time. Bowden begins his entertaining and informative narration in the third quarter, and then delves into backstory on the league, players and the buildup, before returning to the gridiron to conclude with a detailed account of the final plays and an epilogue. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/14/2008
Release date: 05/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
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