From Publishers Weekly
As he did so memorably for baseball in Moneyball
, Lewis takes a statistical X-ray of the hidden substructure of football, outlining the invisible doings of unsung players that determine the outcome more than the showy exploits of point scorers. In his sketch of the gridiron arms race, first came the modern, meticulously choreographed passing offense, then the ferocious defensive pass rusher whose bone-crunching quarterback sacks demolished the best-laid passing game, and finally the rise of the left tackle—the offensive lineman tasked with protecting the quarterback from the pass rusher—whose presence is felt only through the game-deciding absence of said sacks. A rare creature combining 300 pounds of bulk with "the body control of a ballerina," the anonymous left tackle, Lewis notes, is now often a team's highest-paid player. Lewis fleshes this out with the colorful saga of left tackle prodigy Michael Oher. An intermittently homeless Memphis ghetto kid taken in by a rich white family and a Christian high school, Oher's preternatural size and agility soon has every college coach in the country courting him obsequiously. Combining a tour de force of sports analysis with a piquant ethnography of the South's pigskin mania, Lewis probes the fascinating question of whether football is a matter of brute force or subtle intellect. Photos. (Oct.)
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*Starred Review* The titular "blind side" is a right-handed NFL quarterback's left side. The defensive linemen rushing the quarterback from that side often arrive undetected and thus can inflict great damage on the opponent's key offensive player as he sets himself to pass. The key to minimizing quarterback damage is an effective offensive left tackle. Lewis, most recognizable as the author of the best-selling Moneyball
(2003)--about the growing reliance on statistical analysis in baseball--describes the NFL's ever-growing obsession with left tackles as a means to counter defenders who seem to grow bigger, stronger, and more vicious each season. He juxtaposes that narrative with the unlikely story of Michael Oher, who was living on the streets of Memphis when he was 15 years old. He also happened to be six-feet-five-inches tall, weigh 350 pounds, and possess definite athletic talent. Almost through sheer serendipity, he is adopted by a wealthy family whose members make it their mission to see that he has an opportunity to benefit from his amazing physical gifts. The book works on three levels. First as a shrewd analysis of the NFL; second, as an expose of the insanity of big-time college football recruiting; and, third, as a moving portrait of the positive effect that love, family, and education can have in reversing the path of a life that was destined to be lived unhappily and, most likely, end badly. Wes LukowskyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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