Covers of football books and a football field

Recommended Reads, Trends

4 of the best football books to read before the Super Bowl


Feb 05, 2024

If you’re anything like me, the week before the big game is a good time to reevaluate your leisure time. It’s a cruel reminder that there’s nothing to watch on a Sunday afternoon, but it’s also the best time of the year to catch up on reading. In football season, I always experience a bit of guilt on Sunday evening when I’ve watched football all day and neglected my shelf of books in the Libby app.

We’re here to help those with the “no football blues” find the perfect book about your favorite sport, keeping you in the game. If you’re also the type that wants to impress your friends and family at the party with a random factoid, Libby has a great selection of books to prep you for the Kansas City and San Francisco faceoff on Feb. 11.

When I was five years old and got my first library card (not listing what year that was), unlike most kids who wanted fiction, I checked out the children’s editions of nonfiction sports books. I’m sure growing up less than five minutes from the Pro Football Hall of Fame influenced this. These books would contain info about their uniforms, stadium, best players and great accomplishments. I checked out one for each football team. As I got older, when other kids were reading Harry Potter, I read nonfiction about the best players, coaches and moments in football history. I was kind of a football know-it-all, and I have those books and the Stark County Library (OH) to thank for that.

I’d encourage anyone who knows a child who loves the game to pick out a few from their library’s collection and find new ways to learn about the players they see on TV. You never know where that first book will lead them!

Here are a few of my favorite football books you can find on Libby:

America's GameAmerica’s Game by Michael MacCambridge

This is my favorite book about the NFL. Many of the nerdy trivia tidbits and sidenotes I share during a game come from this book. It covers the league from its founding through WWII, the rising popularity in the 50s and 60, the merger between the AFL and NFL, the challenges of the 80s and the rise to where the league is today (as of 2008 when the book was written).

One of the great anecdotes is the owner of the Cleveland Rams standing on a snowy field and deciding to chase warm weather and become the first team to move to Los Angeles. Another great story from the early days involves the NFL commissioner and his wife creating the league schedule together on their dining room table by writing each team’s name on a set of dominos.

You’ll love stories on the creation of Monday Night Football, the first Super Bowl and tales of “The Forgotten Four” - Bill Wills, Marion Motley, Woody Strode and Kenny Washington. These are the four men who reintegrated football in 1946.

If you’re interested in football, media rights, labor relations, U.S. history post-WWII, Tom Brady, Terry Bradshaw, Paul Brown and so many other topics, this is the book to lose yourself in.

Lamar HuntLamar Hunt: A Life in Sports by Michael MacCambridge

The whole list won’t be MacCambridge books, but we cannot mention this year’s game without this book. If you’ve seen pictures of Gracie Hunt with Taylor Swift at Chiefs games and thought, “I wonder what her connection is to the team?”, then this is the book for you. Lamar Hunt is the founder of the Kansas City Chiefs and Gracie is his granddaughter.

This biography of Lamar Hunt is a great look into a football rebel, someone who was told “No” by the NFL and decided to start his own league – the AFL. This book talks in great detail about this risky proposition and how this rouge league would eventually merge with the NFL, essentially creating football as we know it today.

💡 Fun fact: It was Lamar Hunt himself who coined the term “Super Bowl.” I can’t think of a better week to read this one!

The Score Takes Care of ItselfThe Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh and Steve Jamison

San Francisco 49ers fans can’t be left off this list. This book is a series of interviews San Francisco coach Bill Walsh did with Steve Jamison on leadership. You’ll learn about managing people, setting expectations and honoring achievement.

I’ve often found football coaches to be motivators in my daily life, and these great stories from one of the NFL’s greatest is a perfect combination of leisure and learning. I’d recommend the audiobook for the commute or morning walk before work.

The Games That Changed the GameThe Games That Changed the Game: The Evolution of the NFL in Seven Sundays by Ron Jaworski and David Plaut

It was written in 2010, but this was a recent find I really enjoyed and finished over a long weekend. Jaworski played in the NFL, starting for the Eagles in Super Bowl XV. He’s also well-known for his work as an analyst, meticulously breaking down film and explaining the game at a higher level to fans.

I like this book because the author, nicknamed “Jaws”, picks out seven particular games where a new scheme or strategy showed the game was changing. It starts with the evolution of the forward pass in the 1960s and finishes in the 2000s with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s first of many Super Bowl wins.

I love learning about the evolution of the forward pass, the coaches who saw what the game could be and made small innovations that evolved into players like Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson.

If you’ve ever wondered how the game got where it is today, grab this one for a plane ride or lazy weekend.

Score big and borrow any of these books for free from your library on Libby.

RELATED READ: Are you ready for some football (books)?


About the Author

Jeff Russ is an Advertising Specialist with OverDrive with a love of reading that goes back as far as his memory will take him. He refuses to leave work at work, as he enjoys using the Libby app in his free time to read ebooks on his porch and listen to audiobooks at the Cuyahoga Valley National Parks or while tending to his tomato garden. Growing up, his favorite book was "The World Almanac," but he’s since traded it for books by Kurt Vonnegut, John Steinbeck, Sally Rooney and Jennifer Egan.


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