By: Cameron Merritt
While another season of the National Football League is well underway, The Football Volumes by Andrew Goldstein gives readers the chance to relive the all the highs and lows of the 2012-2013 NFL season. The information of the season, including the top players and teams, is presented in a way that’s both informational and humorous.
The debut novel from Goldstein, a former SI Kids “Kid Reporter” and host of the sports and entertainment podcast “AM Sports Live,” was written during his junior year of high school. The now 18-year old Cranbury, N.J. native eats, sleeps and breathes football despite, as he says, being “not athletically gifted in any way, shape, or form.”
“My talent (or lack thereof, depending on your opinion of this book) is communication,” he writes in his introduction. Goldstein shares his immense knowledge, and the sources that have helped him grow such a repertoire, with the readers, always presenting it in an entertaining fashion.
Every week, Goldstein reviews and analyzes the important games, players and moments of all the NFL action, and gives his thoughts on all that’s happening. During the playoffs, he changes to a “running diary,” giving updates of the game and what he’s thinking in real time.
Humor and sarcasm are as much a part of The Football Volumes as football itself. Some of his favorite targets include the replacement referees, overplayed commercials, his beloved New York Jets, and himself.
“I’ve been writing this book for the better part of six months now while I continue to neglect my social life,” wrote Goldstein on Christmas morning. “Ladies, please. One at a time.”
While talking in the Week 17 chapter about Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Rothelesberger calling out Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley on some key errors, Goldstein comments that he didn’t just throw Haley under the bus, but that “he dropped him from the top of the bus and let the bus run over him like the Copa Del Rey trophy,” in reference to the infamous 2011 event that occurred in the world of fútbol. Several members of the Spanish soccer team Real Madrid dropped their recently acquired trophy from the top of a double decker bus during their championship parade, and it was run over before it anyone could react.
However, this is far from just a football joke book. Goldstein analyzes statistics for teams and players every week, compares and contrasts their performances with others and their own previous seasons.
He discusses such players as Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who returned from tearing both his ACL and MCL in December 2011 and had the best season of his career less than a year later, Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, who Goldstein views as one of the most underrated players in league history, and Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, watching the rookie exceed his expectations.
Goldstein also goes into depth on an array of topics in several different sections of the novel, such as advice on how to best balance football and family on Thanksgiving, lamenting on the hopelessness that comes with being a fan of a disappointing team, why fans of such teams keep hope, the NFL’s referee strike and, a personal favorite of his, the Patriots-Jets rivalry.
“This book is very heavy on the Pats-Jets dynamic. If you don’t like it, I’d suggest you put this book down and sprint away,” jokes Goldstein in the book’s introduction, and says later that even as much as he “hates” the Patriots, he has massive respect for coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski, one of his favorite current players.
The book isn’t perfect. It would have been nice to see more on such subjects as the NFL preseason, his opinion on the annual game at Wembley Stadium in London and the NFL’s response to the Newtown shooting tragedy, which he mentions briefly. He does, however, show a lot of maturity and seriousness when discussing the tragic Kansas City murder-suicide of a depressed Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend Michelle Perkins, which shook the NFL community and took away the promising life of a young woman.
There are a few typos as well, though not Goldstein’s fault, such as titles incorrectly listing Week 12 as happening on Nov. 18, 2013 and Week 14 as Oct. 2 instead of Dec. 2.
However, readers should be very impressed with the fact that the author, with an insightful view into everything NFL and able to analyze it so well, was a high school junior also balancing honors and AP classes while writing a novel. Goldstein shows immense potential and could someday become a very big name in the world of football journalism.
For those reasons, this book deserves 3.5 out of 5 stars and serves as a very entertaining and enjoyable read for football fans. All of Goldstein’s author proceeds from each book are donated to the NJ Sandy Relief Fund to help rebuild the Jersey Shore from last year’s devastating Superstorm Sandy, a cause near and dear to his heart.
Material that didn’t make publication can be viewed at footballvolumes.blogspot.com and the book can be purchased online for $14.95 from Amazon, or directly from the publishers KidPub and Bookility.