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A Few Seconds of Panic

 

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A Few Seconds of Panic, Stefan Fatsis

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

This is another repeat author read: I read Fatsis’ Word Freak last year and after becoming thoroughly engrossed in his description of professional Scrabble I decided to roll the dice on one of his other popular non-fiction books.  As part of A Few Seconds of Panic Fatsis somehow convinces the Denver Broncos to allow him to participate in preseason training camp with the rest of the team, in the process learning how to become an NFL kicker.  A fun read, interesting insight into the lives of NFL players at large as well as — like any profession that seems so glamorous from the outside looking in — the trials and tribulations of playing in the league.  I wasn’t as engrossed as I was with Word Freak, but this one a good companion for a long plane ride sometime.  If you love NFL, I’m pretty sure you won’t be able to put this one down.

Publisher’s Weekly: Fatsis is dwarfed by any of the NFL athletes who put their bodies on the line each Sunday.  But that doesn’t stop him from asking to attend the Denver Broncos’ training camp in hopes of learning one very specific athletic skill — that is, placekicking — and not to become an NFL-caliber kicker, but to become a credible one.  Fatsis is treated like any rookie, from having to sing his alma mater’s fight song minutes after stepping into the locker room to carrying the team’s duffel bags and bunking in the hotel with all the other rookies.  But his vibrant enthusiasm for improving his kicking ability helps his Bronco teammates accept him as one of their own.  With that, the reader gets a glimpse of the true NFL, in the tradition of George Plimpton’s Paper Lion.  We see the crippling injuries that are kept secret for fear of losing playing time; the heartbreak of standing on the sidelines in camp, just aching to prove one’s worth; the tears that come when the NFL dream could be over.  Fatsis, too, has his own personal highs and lows through camp, enduring the long days, the trainer’s visits and the sting of failure in front of coaches and players.  It’s an incredibly fascinating read for football fans, squashing the notion that the life of an NFL player is always glamorous.

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