A Few Seconds of Panic by Stefan Fatsis is THE sports book of the summer -- probably the fall, too, given its NFL-focused subject. It will certainly make my short list for Best Sports Books of 2008.
The premise is simple: Fatsis goes to NFL training camp as a kicker with the Broncos. But this is no "Paper Lion" -- it's better. It's the most fascinating look at life inside the NFL that I have ever read, but also this totally engaging personal narrative by this guy who could be you or me -- certainly one of your buddies -- with an absolutely amazing story to tell. Fatsis just happens to be a uniquely gifted writer, too, who can pull it off. (He wrote the similarly must-read "Word Freak.")
I'm going to have a more extensive review next week, but if you are looking for an absolutely awesome read for this long holiday weekend -- or anytime the rest of this summer, pick up the book, either at the store or via Amazon. (And, if you're jonesing for the NFL in early July, this totally satisfies that craving.)
(Hardback books are often hard to recommend. In this case, it's one you'll want to have on your shelf long after you have enjoyed it. I actually recently reorganized my main "sports-book" bookshelf, which is large; the process of paring it down was much more involved than I thought it would be, but I had a chance to really revisit my favorite sports books of all time. As it happens, "A Few Seconds of Panic" made the cut.)
Kudos to Fatsis on an amazing effort. Get this book.
(It must be noted that last December, Fatsis gave me and this blog a name-check on his weekly NPR sports segment, related to a turn-of-phrase I made about Tim Tebow breaking the Heisman's traditional "Class Ceiling." I was a fan of Fatsis long before that.)