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Mike Leonetti is the author of many sports books, including the first edition of Football Now!
John Iaboni is a sportswriter and was coauthor of the first edition of Football Now!
Football Now! is the story of how during a complex time, some things never change. Playing NFL football can be financially rewarding, but you can't buy a championship. Winning a Super Bowl is still defined by the principles of hard work, discipline and sportsmanship. That was proved by the 2008 Pirrsburgh Steelers, who romped their way to an unprecedented sixth Super Bowl victory, the second in four years, with timely offense and the league's best defense -- the Steel Curtain reborn!
The march to six NFL titles in Pittsburgh has been orchestrated by coaching legends the likes of Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher, and now the fresh-faced Mike Tomlin, who at 36 became the youngest coach ever to win the Lombardi Trophy. His era is one not defined by chalkboard plays and X's and O's, but by high-tech tools that instantly provide benches with snapshots of plays that happened only seconds before. For Tomlin, and all those who have come before him and those who will follow in his footsteps, instilling his team with the will to win is, and always will be, the hardest part of the job.
Football Now! is the story of aging superstars showing their magic once more, like Tony Gonzalez, Hines Ward and Kurt Warner, and a new wave of stars whose time has arrived, such as Adrian Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald and Matt Ryan. Covered in these pages are stories about great plays and misplays, euphoria and dejection, blessed lives and troubled times; there are more than a few NFLers who have had to cast aside tough upbringings, and many who are having to deal with current off-field problems. Some overcome their difficulties while others are consumed by them. Sometimes, ultimately, the law is the agent that disciplines players, a troubling aspect of a league that is trying hard to ensure its role models are a positive influence on young fans.
Football Now! is the story of the fan. The in-game experience, whether live or through the media, is all encompassing: instant replays, analysis and camera angles covering every inch of the field are offered to observers at every moment. Today the NFL fan can be brought right into the huddle and can follow the ball from every conceivable angle, while capturing every crunching sound. It is the opportunity for every fan to be part of the stadium atmosphere without even being there!
In 2008, the NFL's marketing slogan was "Believe in Now," a sentiment echoed throughout the pages of Football Now! Today's NFL is packed with more capable superstars at every position than ever before. What follows is a glimpse into the story of Football Now! -- the careers of the 86 most influential players currently thrilling the football world.