Yesterday’s post mostly featured great fictional football stories. As the big game approaches, today’s post focuses on the stories of a few of the real life heroes of the game. Men who are heroes both on and off the field.
For Younger Fans (Books appropriate for independent reading by students in grades 3 and up)
Through My Eyes: A Quarterback’s Journey by Tim Tebow with Nathan Whitaker
Meet Tim Tebow in this young reader’s version of his best-selling memoir.
Tim Tebow grew up playing every sport imaginable, but football was his true passion. Even from an early age, Tim has always had the drive to be the best player and person that he could be. Through his hard work and determination, he established himself as one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of college football and as a top prospect in the NFL. Now, in Through My Eyes: A Quarterback’s Journey, he shares the behind-the-scenes details of his life, on and off the football field. Tim writes about his life as he chooses to live it, revealing how his Christian faith, his family values, and his relentless will to succeed have molded him into the person and the athlete he is today. (Publisher Description)
Believe: The Victorious Story of Eric LeGrand (Young Readers’ Edition) by Eric LeGrand and Mike Yorkey
Eric LeGrand is a student at Rutgers University and a former defensive lineman and special teams player for the Scarlet Knights. On October 16, 2010, he suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury in a game against Army. Paralyzed from the neck down, Eric’s injury and rehabilitation have been covered by such media outlets as Sports Illustrated, the New York Times, ESPN, CBS, and NBC. In May of 2012, Eric was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and in July of 2012 he received the Jimmy V Perseverance Award during ESPN’s annual ESPY awards show. LeGrand’s spirit and perseverance prove him to be a remarkable young man and leader, both on and off the field.
Reads for Older Students and Adults (Restricted to fifth and sixth grade check-out)
I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness to the Blind Side by Michael Oher with Don Yaeger
Michael Oher, the native Memphian whose younger life was the subject of the best selling book and hit movie The Blind Side, tells in his own words how he escaped abject poverty, neglect, and the foster care system to become an All-Pro Left Tackle for the Baltimore Ravens (one of the teams playing in this year’s Super Bowl — Go Ravens!). It’s an amazing story, and Michael Oher is a remarkable young man. His sense of purpose and drive to escape the poverty, gangs, drugs, and other issues of his early life are inspiring. Every reader whether they share Mr. Oher’s experiences or not can learn something from his drive and determination. Oher’s ability to take responsibility for himself and his actions even at a very young age prove that a person’s’ actions can always rise above their circumstances. Highly recommended, particularly if you enjoyed Gifted Hands, Same Kind of Different as Me, and We Beat the Street.
Coming Back Stronger by Drew Brees with Chris Fabry
Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints and MVP of Super Bowl XLIV, has written a powerful memoir of how the adversity he has faced in his life has made him a better, stronger football player and human being. Mr. Brees is a devout Christian who “counts it all joy” as he believes that adversity means opportunity. He says, “Many people would define the “good life” as one that’s free of pain and hardship and heartache. But I’ve learned that adversity is actually an opportunity. It’s a gift, though it may not look like it in the moment. The difficulties life throws at you can be a doorway to something better — something you hadn’t even dreamed was possible.”
In this memoir, Brees describes the many obstacles he had to overcome on his way to leading the Saints to their Super Bowl victory over Peyton Manning and the Colts in 2009, earning MVP honors in the process. It’s a terrific and inspirational read.
Through My Eyes by Tim Tebow with Nathan Whitaker
Former University of Florida star quarterback, 2010 first-round draft pick for the Denver Broncos, and devout Christian, Tim Tebow tells the story of his faith, his life, and his career in football in Through My Eyes. Written with Nathan Whitaker, the New York Times bestselling coauthor of Quiet Strength, with Tony Dungy, Through My Eyes gives fans a first look into the heart of an athlete whose talent and devotion have made him one of the most provocative figures in football. (Publisher Description)
Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy with Nathan Whitaker
When Tony Dungy led the Indianapolis Colts to victory in Super Bowl XLI– the first African American coach to win the big game–millions wondered, amazed by the success of his quiet, authoritative leadership style: how does he get it done? In this memoir, Dungy reveals the secrets to his success–principles, practices, and priorities that have kept him on track despite overwhelming personal and professional obstacles, including firings, stereotypes, and the tragic loss of a child. In the face of so much adversity, Tony has not only survived but risen to the top of his profession in a way that’s won the respect of fans, players, and even his competitors. His thoughts on leading, succeeding, and attaining true significance may inspire you to take a long, hard look at the things that really matter in your own life. (Publisher Description)
Something for Joey by Richard E. Peck
Together, they won college football’s highest award.
This is a true, memorable, compassionate story of courage and love between two brothers. In 1973, while John Cappelletti was winning the Heisman Trophy as the outstanding college football player in America, his younger brother Joey was suffering from leukemia. But John, who became a star running back for the Los Angeles Rams, had a very special medicine for Joey. It was called touchdowns. And John scored them in bunches because they were “Something for Joey.” The story of the Cappelletti family is a story of courage you will never forget. (Publisher Description)
Brian’s Song by William Blinn
Two men. One named Gale Sayers, the other Brian Piccolo. They came from different parts of the country. They competed fiercely for the same job. One liked to talk; the other was shy. One was white; the other black. This is the story of how they came to know each other, fight each other, and help each other…
This is the classic true story of brotherhood both on and off the football field and the inspiration for the classic football movie of the same name starring James Caan and Billy D. Williams. (Publisher’s Description)