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Diary of a Mad Sportswriter: Hudy Head book review: The GM

Diary of a Mad Sportswriter

Stan Hudy is a sportswriter for The Saratogian and Community News. He covers high school and youth sports in the Saratoga County area as well as writing a weekly book review on sports books. He's not just a "stick and ball" sportswriter, he's willing to take on any sport as well as any subject.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hudy Head book review: The GM

Author Tom Callahan returns to the sidelines — and the front office — in his cooperative work with retired general manager of the New York Giants football team, Ernie Accorsi, in "The GM: A Football Life, a Final Season, and a Last Laugh."

It is hard to imagine that Callahan could follow up his riveting historic work about Johnny Unitas, "Johnny U," but he again proves that with a willing subject and time, great things can again be written for sports fans.


I have to preface my comments by a simple statement: I am not a New York Giants fan. I do not like the Giants and I do not root for the Giants. I am still personally scarred by Buffalo Bills place-kicker Scott Norwood's missed field goal in Super Bowl XXV during a Super Bowl party I personally hosted, surrounded by Giants fans.

With that out there for you to consider, my choice to purchase "The GM" was more to satisfy the New York Giants fans who will be interested in the book, taking one for the team as it were, for this week’s review.

Callahan had full access to Accorsi during his final year as general manager with the New York Giants in 2006. It was Accrosi's 35th year working in the NFL. It was a disappointing season for the club and its fans, filled with injuries, conjecture, and calls for terminations, but with Callahan there at every step of the way, stories from Accorsi made the season shine.

It is rare that an individual decides at an early age that they want to become a general manager of a sports team, but that role fell to Accorsi.

He grew up a fan of baseball great GM Branch Rickey and set himself on the path to work in the front office of baseball with stops along the way as a sports¬writer before turning to the gridiron working for Joe Paterno as a sports information director’s assistant.

He would learn from the best in Paterno before being offered a job in the front office of the Baltimore Colts in 1970.

He was in the big leagues now.

"The GM" doesn’t follow a chronological flow of Accorsi's starts and stops along his career. Callahan weaves the chapters together with his subject's history as well as views from the 2006 season and its ups and downs. The game chapters are quick, outlined snippets of scoring drives and don’t bog down the work.

Accorsi offers front-office insight of the 1983 draft when he successfully took John Elway with the first overall pick in the draft after talking owner Robert Irsay out of trading in during a flurry of telephone calls. He shouldn't have left the office; the same day, Irsay traded Elway to the Broncos.

It wouldn’t be the last time that Accorsi found quarterbacking talent and convinced his owners to trust him. It was Accorsi who successfully drafted Bernie Kosar, with the help of the quarterback's academic acumen and a loophole in the NFL by-laws, and of course, traded for New York’s current QB, Eli Manning.

"The GM" isn't all bright lights and touchdowns as Callahan steps behind closed doors and gives first-hand accounts of the more inept moments in 2006 with current coach Tom Coughlin, the bitter departure of running back Tiki Barber and the saner, brighter side of Jeremy Shockey.

Along the way there are names that are introduced to the reader that may be common to New York Giants fans, injuries, pre-draft opinions, and successes.

"The GM" wouldn’t be complete without revelations about owners, coaches and the New York Giants hierarchy, including the late Wellington Mara and George Young, to name a few. It is the truly personal, personnel insights that Accorsi reveals and Callahan weaves that makes "The GM", like Accorsi a winner.

Grade: 4 Hudy Heads

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