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The Last Headbangers

NFL Football in the Rowdy, Reckless '70s: the Era that Created Modern Sports

Kevin Cook (Author)


The inside story of the most colorful decade in NFL history—pro football’s raging, hormonal, hairy, druggy, immortal adolescence.

Between the Immaculate Reception in 1972 and The Catch in 1982, pro football grew up. In 1972, Steelers star Franco Harris hitchhiked to practice. NFL teams roomed in skanky motels. They played on guts, painkillers, legal steroids, fury, and camaraderie. A decade later, Joe Montana’s gleamingly efficient 49ers ushered in a new era: the corporate, scripted, multibillion-dollar NFL we watch today. Kevin Cook’s rollicking chronicle of this pivotal decade draws on interviews with legendary players—Harris, Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Ken “Snake” Stabler—to re-create their heroics and off-field carousing. He shows coaches John Madden and Bill Walsh outsmarting rivals as Monday Night Football redefined sports’ place in American life. Celebrating the game while lamenting the physical toll it took on football’s greatest generation, Cook diagrams the NFL’s transformation from second-tier sport into national obsession.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • August 2013
  • ISBN 978-0-393-34587-2
  • 5.6 × 8.3 in / 304 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Endorsements & Reviews

“A head-slap of a book. Whap, yeah, that’s how it was.” — Roy Blount, Jr., author of About Three Bricks Shy of a Load and Alphabet Juice

“Wired, crazy, hard-hitting, a pure winner.” — Jeff Pearlman, author of Boys Will Be Boys and Sweetness

“About as subtle as a kick in the head.” — Scott Simon, NPR

“Featuring arguably the greatest collection of weirdos, maniacs, misfits, heroes and villains ever gathered under any dome other than the U.S. Capitol.” — Greg Schneider, Washington Post

“Kevin Cook celebrates the rough-edged heroes of the 1970s NFL, vividly re-creating some of the game’s unforgettable moments.” — Jonathan Mahler, author of Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning

Also by Kevin Cook All

  1. Book CoverThe Dad Report: Fathers, Sons, and Baseball Families


  2. Book CoverKitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America


  3. Book CoverTitanic Thompson: The Man Who Bet on Everything


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