(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.


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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Book Review: Jeffrey Marx's "The Long Snapper"

Here's another excellent book from Marx, whose last book I wrote about here.

Marx writes about Brian Kinchen, a seventh-grade bible study teacher at a private school in Louisiana in the fall of 2003. Kinchen, an LSU grad, had played tight end and long snapper in the NFL for 13 years before leaving the game in 2000. Like many players, he had unfinished business. He was only 35 in 2000, not ready to quit, but no team came a-calling after the 2000 season. So he settled into life as a middle-school teacher and a part-time volunteer coach with his alma mater (then coached by Nick Saban).

And then the call came. He was 38, out of football for three years, and the New England Patriots had a problem. Their long snapper got hurt, and the team was holding auditions in a couple of days. There were about 3 games left in the regular season, the Patriots were doing fine and priming for a deep post-season run. They wanted to know if Brian wanted to travel to Foxboro and try out.

Kinchen got the call because he had played for the Cleveland Browns when Bill Belichick was the coach, and Scott Pioli, New England's head of player personnel, had worked in Cleveland and the two were friends. That said, this was all business; Kinchen wouldn't be granted any special favors. He would have to beat out three other guys -- and he did just that.

I'm not going to tell you the rest of the story -- get the book to find out how Kinchen's journey went (one clue -- it wasn't all a bed of roses; there were some thorns to overcome). But it's an inspiring story about a man in the middle of his life, his faith, his family, the game he loves, and what his purpose will be after his playing days are over.


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