25 Football Books About Players and the NFL

If you're a fan of football, you'll love these books about the sport. They explore everything from athletes playing the game to life in the NFL.

Whether you're a seasoned player or just enjoy watching from the sidelines, these books have something for everyone.

So put on your helmet and get ready for some good reads!

Football Books

1. The Blind Side

The Blind Side

Written by: Michael Lewis

Published: 2006

Pages: 304

The Blind Side tells the story of Michael Oher, an underprivileged African American teenager from Memphis who is taken in by a wealthy white family, the Tuohys, and given opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach. The Tuohys help Michael develop into a football star, and he eventually becomes a first-round draft pick for the Baltimore Ravens.

This book provides readers with an inside look at the world of professional football as well as the challenges faced by underprivileged children. It is an engaging read that will keep you hooked until the very end.

2. Mind and Matter: A Life in Math and Football

Mind and Matter

Written by: John Urschel and Louisa Thomas

Published: 2019

Pages: 256

If you're at all familiar with the life of N.F.L. lineman John Urschel, it's hard to believe that he has time for anything else outside of playing football. A second-round draft pick by the Baltimore Ravens in 2014, Urschel quickly rose up the ranks and became one of the most promising young players in the league. But surprisingly, Urschel's story isn't just about football. It's also about math.

In fact, Urschel is something of a mathematical genius, having published research papers while still an undergraduate student at Penn State. So how does a professional athlete find time for academics? And what does mathematics have to do with gridiron competition? Read on and learn how he makes them both work for him.

3. Things That Make White People Uncomfortable

Things That Make White People Uncomfortable

Written by: Michael Bennett

Published: 2018

pages: 220

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett tackles head-on subjects like racism and police brutality in this book. The book is a collection of personal essays in which Bennett shares his insights on these complex topics, offering readers a unique perspective on America's ongoing struggle with race relations. Bennett never shies away from controversy, whether he's writing about growing up poor or protesting during the national anthem.

His honest and unflinching approach makes Examples of his essays include how white people react when they are confronted by their privilege and how they benefit from racism. This is an essential read for anyone interested in understanding the current state of race relations in America.

4. America’s Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured a Nation

America’s Game: The Epic Story of

Written by: Michael MacCambridge

Published: 2004

Pages: 552

The renowned sports journalist and author Michael MacCambridge take an in-depth look at the history of professional football in America. Drawing on interviews with players, coaches, and journalists, Belsky tells the compelling story of how a game once thought to be nothing more than a sideshow became one of the most popular pastimes in the country.

From its humble beginnings, as a sport played by college students scrapping for bragging rights to its current position as a multibillion-dollar industry, pro football has come to embody the American spirit. Ranging over sixty years of N.F.L. history, this book is an intense dive into this sport and how it changed at the same time as the U.S.A.

The book focuses on six of the primary N.F.L. teams, including ones such as the Dallas Cowboys, The Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders, and others.

5. When Pride Still Mattered: A Life Of Vince Lombardi

When Pride Still Mattered

Written by: David Maraniss

Published: 1999

Pages: 544

Most people have heard of Tom Brady, Joe Montana, or Peyton Manning. However, there is perhaps no more meaningful name in the world of professional football than Vince Lombardi. As the head coach of the Green Bay Packers in the 1960s, Lombardi led his team to five championships and became one of the most revered figures in sports history.

David Maraniss tells the story of Lombardi's life both on and off the field. Drawing on extensive research and interviews with those who knew Lombardi best, Maraniss provides a fascinating look at one of the most influential figures in American sport. If you are a fan of the N.F.L. or just want to get some lessons on life from one of the greatest coaches, then this book is definitely worth checking out.

6. Bringing the Heat

Bringing the Heat

Written by: Mark Bowden

Published: 1994

Pages: 482

The 1992 Philadelphia Eagles were known to "Bring the Heat" with their incredible defense and the incredible players not just on defense but also on offense. The players were tough, ready to fight, and weren't about to give in to anyone. Buddy Ryan was known as a tough guy and a hard-nosed coach who didn't take anything from anyone.

Unlike many books on this list, this is about a team, but more about the team inside the team. The players that it focuses on are just a few of the team, and it goes very in-depth about them. Some of these include the death of Jerome Brown, Reggie White, and others. It delves into the plays on the field and the destruction caused by violence off the field, including relationships and other issues. And how sometimes, no matter how good you are, you can still end up short of your dreams.

7. American’s Quarterback: Bart Starr and the Rise of the National Football League

American’s Quarterback

Written by: Keith Dunnavant

Published: 2011

Pages: 368

In American football, there is one position that is considered more important than any other on the football field: Quarterback. Throughout the history of the National Football League (N.F.L.), many great quarterbacks have led their teams to victory. Bart Starr was one of the first famous ones, and he led the Green Bay Packers to five champions and is in the N.F.L. Hall of Fame.

In this intriguing book, Keith Dunnavant tells the story of one of the greatest quarterback’s life in N.F.L. history and his career on and off the field Bart Starr. Drawing on exclusive interviews with dozens of people who knew Starr best—including family members, teammates, coaches, and opponents—he reveals how Starr became one of the most successful and admired players in N.F.L. history.

8. Growing Up Gronk

Growing Up Gronk

Written by: The Gronkowski Family

Published: 2013

Pages: 224

In this hilarious and yet down to Earth book, the Gronkowski family provides an intimate look at the football superstar's upbringing and how it shaped him into the player and person he is today. From his days as a fearless youth athlete to his record-breaking college career to becoming one of the N.F.L.'s most dominant players, readers are given an all-access pass to see what makes Rob Gronkowski the man.

Most people don't realize that Rob isn't the only star in the family. He has four brothers, three of who also made it to the N.F.L. and the other who became a professional baseball player. That is what makes this book so wonderful: You get to see how this family, driven by pride and wanting to compete against each other, all became winners in their own way.

9. Ten Gallon War

Ten Gallon War

Written by: John Eisenberg

Published: 2012

pages: 320

This book tells the story of how the N.F.L. (National Football League) and its rival, the A.F.L. (American Football League), started up and then became one league as they realized it would be best for both. It also focuses on the battle before the merger and how the Dallas Cowboys were Dallas Texans were vying for supremacy on the field and against each other.

Because both teams had such different styles, such as the Dallas Texans having cheerleaders driving around in cars trying to entice fans to the games, while the Cowboys were more interested in performing when the games mattered, it is intriguing to see how the teams dealt with success and failure. And must happen for both to succeed in their way.

10. The Games That Changed the Game: The Evolution of the N.F.L. in Seven Sundays

The Games That Changed the Game

Written by: Ron Jaworski, David Plaut, and Greg Cosell

Published: 2010

pages: 336

Sunday is one of the most revered days in America. It's a day reserved for family, rest, relaxation—and sports. For as long as anyone can remember, the National Football League (N.F.L.) has been a staple of American culture. Football is more than just a sport; it's a way of life. But the N.F.L. didn't always look like it does today.

The N.F.L. has come a long way from its humble beginnings to its current state as a multi-billion-dollar industry. Greg Cosell, the nephew of one of the greatest announcers in N.F.L. history, Howard Cosell, helps since he has been around the game since he was a tiny kid. In this incredibly insightful book, author and NFL MVP quarterback Ron Jaworski takes a closer look at seven pivotal games that helped shape the league into what it is today.

11. About Three Bricks Shy of a Load: A Highly Irregular Lowdown on the Year the Pittsburg Steelers were Super but Missed the Super Bowl

Three Bricks Shy of a Load

Written by: Roy Blount Jr.

Published: 1974

pages: 310

This is a no-holds-barred about as non-politically correct book about the N.F.L. that you will find anywhere. As the title states, the Pittsburgh Steelers did not win the Super Bowl in 1973. However, that doesn't mean this book isn't as exciting and insane because of that.

During this season, Roy Blount Jr. was allowed to be as much of the team as any player. His enlightening insights into what the N.F.L. used to be before there were billion-dollar television deals and 100-million-dollar football contracts.

This was a time when you wanted to try to walk on (not be drafted by a team) and still have a chance to make it on the team. This was also a time when athletes were carousing with women, drinking like madmen, smoking in the locker room, and more.

It also looks at the racial, ethnic, and social sets because of what was happening during these turbulent times in the U.S.A. It is so much more than just a book on football. It is a snapshot of life during this era.

12. Paper Lion:  Confessions of a Last-String Quarterback

Paper Lion

Written by: George Plimpton

Published:  2016 (1966)

pages: 384

In 1966, George Plimpton wrote a book about his experiences as a last-string quarterback for the Detroit Lions. Even though he had never played football during his lifetime, he decided to give it a chance and see what happened. His experience was enlightening and an enthralling rollercoaster ride. Although he was never actually on the field during a regular-season game, Plimpton did get to see what it was like during the pre-season and was able to play in one of the games.

Because of that, Plimpton's experiences as a quarterback provide an interesting perspective on one of America's most popular sports. Being that he was one of the first journalists to be a part of a team, more than just reporting from the sidelines, this is a book that everyone should read to get the inside story.

13. Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of N.F.L. Football

Collision Low Crossers

Written by: Nicholas Dawidoff

Published: 2013

Pages: 496

If you're like most Americans, you probably spend most Sundays glued to your television watching the N.F.L. But have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of America's favorite sport? If you're interested in learning more about that, this is the perfect book.

Focusing on the 2011 New York Jets' season is a powerful examination of it. Written by longtime New York Times sports journalist Nicholas Dawidoff, the book offers an in-depth look at life inside an N.F.L. locker room.

From covering players' injuries to detailing their personal struggles, Dawidoff provides a unique perspective on the inner workings of professional football. This includes the head coach, who seemed to have very little to do with being a coach, players who were divas and only cared about themselves, and how football can basically take over a person's life. They end up missing so much of what truly matters: Family.

14. America's Game: The N.F.L. at 100

America's Game: The N.F.L. at 100

Written by: Jerry Rice

Published: 2019

Pages: 544

On October 9, 1869, the first professional football game was played in Pennsylvania. The game was between two teams of 25 players each and lasted for only an hour. In contrast, N.F.L. games today are typically three hours long and consist of eleven players on each team.

Professional football has come a long way in the past century, and no one knows this more than Jerry Rice.

Rice is a former N.F.L. player who has written a book celebrating the history of the N.F.L. Rice highlights some of the most memorable moments in its history, from some of the greatest players and plays ever to the first Super Bowl, and even to player protests during the national anthem.

15. League of Denial: The N.F.L., Concussions, and the Battle for Truth

League of Denial

Written by: Mark Fainaru-Wade and Steve Fainaru

Published: 2013

Pages: 399

In League of Denial, brothers Mark and Steve Fainaru tell the story of how the National Football League (N.F.L.) has responded to evidence that links football-related concussions with long-term brain damage. The N.F.L. has denied and downplayed the significance of these findings for years while at the same time promoting a culture of toughness and hard hits.

League of Denial is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the concussion crisis in American football. The Fainaru brothers' meticulously researched book lays out the facts, touching on everything from scientific studies to Congressional hearings to interviews with players who have suffered from concussion-related health problems.

What emerges is a damning portrait of an organization that has put its interests above those of its players as long as it can continue making billions of dollars.

16. All-American Murder: The Rise and Fall of Aaron Hernandez, the Superstar Whose Life Ended on Murderers' Row

Written by: James Patterson, Alex Abramovich, and Mike Harvey

Published: 2018

pages: 400

It seemed destined that Aaron Hernandez was on top of the world and among one of the great tight ends of all time. Hernandez had a promising career with the New England Patriots and a multimillion-dollar contract to show for it. But then things went south fast.

Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder in 2015 and sentenced to life in prison – and within two years, he was dead.

This riveting new book offers an inside look at Hernandez's meteoric rise and fall, delving into his drug use, violent outbursts, and dark secrets. Using interviews with teammates, friends, family, documents from the police, and more, you will see this man's rise and fall.

Written by James Patterson, this is one of his compelling nonfiction books that makes truth stranger than his fiction.

17. Gridiron Genius: A Master Class in Winning Championships and Building Dynasties in the N.F.L.

Gridiron Genius

Written by: Michael Lombardi

Published: 2018

pages: 288

In the National Football League, a select few teams seem to be in the playoff hunt perennially. Often these teams are led by championship-winning coaches and quarterbacks who have a remarkable ability to win games when it matters most. What separates these elite organizations from the rest of the pack?

According to former N.F.L. executive Michael Lombardi, it all comes down to mastering three key concepts: talent identification, player development, and winning culture.

In this book, Lombardi examines and explains what he has learned from masters such as Bill Walsh of the San Francisco 49ers, Al Davis of the Los Vegas Raiders, and Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots.

Instead of letting little things go by the wayside, the people in these organizations examine everything and plan for success well in advance compared to others.

18. So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules

So You Think You Know Football

Written by: Ben Austro

Published: 2015

Pages: 240

Do you think you know football? Do you know all of the rules? Do you know what every player is allowed to do on the field? If not, then don't worry - you're not alone. In fact, even some of the most avid football fans may not be aware of all the game's intricacies.

That's why Ben Austro put together this guide to the official football rules so that everyone can be an armchair ref and sound like they know what they're talking about. Whether you’ve never seen a game before or have seen them since you were five years old, he’s got everything you need to know right here.

So, sit back, relax, and read on for a comprehensive overview of football rules!

19. The Art of Smart Football

The Art of Smart Football

Written by: Chris Brown

Published: 2015

pages: 182

It's no secret that football is a complex sport. A lot goes into winning on the field, from mastering strategic schemes to being in peak physical condition. And while much of the focus in today's game is on athletes' speed and strength, success still hinges on players' understanding of football concepts and techniques. That's where The Art of Smart Football comes in.

Written by Chris Brown, one of the sport's most respected analysts, this comprehensive book takes a deep dive into the strategies and tactics that have made football one of America's favorite sports. If you're looking to understand this intricate game better or want to learn more about how to beat your opponents on the gridiron, this is a must-read for any fan.

20. It's Better to Be Feared: The New England Patriots Dynasty and the Pursuit of Greatness

It's Better to be Feared

Written by: Seth Wickersham

Published: 2021

Pages: 528

If you are a football fan, you've probably heard of the New England Patriots, even if you aren't one. This team was one of the best ever, starting in 2001 and continuing up until today. This book looks into how the teams could keep themselves at such a high level, even while losing coaches, players, and others to teams that would play against them.

Starting with coach Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, the Patriots became a juggernaut of success. From the outside, things mostly looked like everything was perfect. However, inside the locker room, there was discord, dislike, and distrust among some of the players, coaches, and the morally questionable owner, Robert Kraft.

There were also issues such as "deflate-gate" and others that took the luster off these incredible teams. This book gives a very in-depth and engaging view of everything during these times.

21. You're Okay, It's Just a Bruise: A Doctor's Sideline Secrets About Pro Football's Most Outrageous Team

You're Okay, It's Just a Bruise

Written by: Rob Huizenga

Published: 1995

Pages: 326

There's an old saying in pro football that goes, "if you ain't cheating, you're losing." While some teams may try to win by any means necessary, the Oakland Raiders have taken things to another level. From salary cap shenanigans to contract breaches, the Raiders have often been fined and penalized more than any other team in the N.F.L.

But what do the players and coaches on the inside really think about all of this? In his new book, R rob Huizenga looks at what makes the Raiders so successful - and so controversial.

Was it the incredible mental contortions of the late owner Al Davis? Was it the steroid use? Was it the push for players to get on the field no matter how much they were hurt?

And what of the individuals who played for the Raiders? Huizenga interviewed current and former players, coaches, and executives to get their take on why the Raiders are such a crazy team.

22. Bo Knows Bo

Bo Knows Bo

Written by: Bo Jackson and Dick Schaap

Published: 1990

Pages: 218

In any sport, a few stand-out athletes dominate the competition. In baseball, there is Babe Ruth. In basketball, Michael Jordan. And in football, Bo Jackson. Bo Knows Bo tells the story of one of the most celebrated and talented athletes in history—Bo Jackson.

From his early days as a star player at Auburn University to his professional career in both baseball and football, Bo's achievements are awe-inspiring.

But even more remarkable than what he has accomplished on the field is how he has faced adversity off it. Bo has dealt with personal tragedy and health problems throughout his life with courage and determination.

This book is sure to inspire readers with its tale of an athlete who always gives it his all, no matter what comes his way, and who said he couldn't achieve his goals.

23. Behind the Line of Scrimmage: Inside the Front Office of the N.F.L.

Behind the Line of Scrimmage

Written by: Michael Huyghue

Published: 2018

Pages: 336

Every football fan has wondered what goes on behind the scenes in the N.F.L. They see the players on the field but have no idea what happens in the offices of team owners and general managers. In his book, former N.F.L. executive Mike Huyghue provides an insider’s view of how teams are run and how decisions are made.

In a sport played mainly by African Americans, it is interesting to see how different the game is played on and off the field. He offers readers a rare glimpse into the complex and fast-paced world of professional football. And just as importantly, he delves into how being African American executive in a world of primarily white males has impacted his life.

24. Football for a Buck: The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL

Football for a Buck

Written by: Jeff Pearlman

Published: 2018

Pages: 384

In his new book, The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL, Jeff Pearlman tells the story of how a scrappy upstart football league took on the N.F.L.—and lost. This is an inside look at the USFL's heyday when big-name players and colorful owners made headlines and caused a stir on the gridiron.

Pearlman can get the inside scoop with over 400 interviews from people such as Steve Young, Reggie White, Doug Flutie, and others.

Everything seemed like it would be a perfect fit. Still, as Pearlman shows, the league was plagued by infighting and financial mismanagement, much of which was caused by owners who needed even more attention than the star players, which eventually led to its downfall.

Interestingly enough, the worst was Donald Trump, who wanted everyone to do whatever he said and ruined the league when they wouldn't do it. If you're interested in learning about this fascinating chapter in sports history, then be sure to check out Pearlman's book. You won't regret it.

25. Never Die Easy: The Autobiography of Walter Payton

Never Die Easy

Written by: Walter Payton and Don Yaeger

Published: 2001

Pages: 268

Walter Payton is known as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, running back in N.F.L. history. His autobiography is a testament to his strength and perseverance. If there's one lesson to be learned from Walter Payton's life, it's that you never give up.

No matter what life throws your way, you keep moving forward.

This incredibly uplifting book tells the story of his difficult childhood, record-breaking career with the Chicago Bears, being inducted into the N.F.L. Hall of Fame, and his battle with liver disease and eventual death in 1999. Despite all the obstacles he faced, Payton never gave up; he was always determined to succeed.

This book is an inspiring read for anyone who needs a little motivation to keep going no matter the odds or what is against you.