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Next Man Up: A Year Behind the Lines in Today's NFL
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Next Man Up: A Year Behind the Lines in Today's NFL

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  2,093 ratings  ·  80 reviews
An up-close look inside an NFL powerhouse, from the onlywriter in America who players and coaches would trust with theirsecrets.
Paperback, 544 pages
Published October 12th 2006 by Back Bay Books (first published 2005)
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Community Reviews

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John Feinstein is a very good writer who spends his time exploring the world of sport. If you care about the NFL this is an interesting book. If you care about the Baltimore Ravens this is a very interesting book. This book is kind of like a tour of sausage factory. You may end up knowing more than you did before but you may not like sausage as much. I liked Feinstein's book about the Patriot League basketball teams much more. Somehow the people seemed more closely related to the world in which ...more
Doug Vanderweide
Had this book been just a chronologically ordered account of an NFL season with enough additional detail to fill in the blank spots - which it is -- I would have called it very good. But unfortunately, it is rife with pettiness and minor factual and grammatical mistakes, enough so that, just when you're really starting to enjoy the read, it all comes crashing down.

For example, take these offenses, from Chapter 16 alone:

-- Feinstein first says "The arrival of the Monday Night football crew in tow
I had the privilege of meeting John Feinstein at the first National Book Festival held in Washington D.C. two days before Sept. 11, 2001. He has always been, and continues to be, in my opinion, the fairest sportswriter I have read. This book, "Next Man Up" give the reader an inside look at how a team drafts players, trains players, and prepares players who must take the place of injured players. I learned that it is not unusual for a team whose "long snapper" is injured, call a player who had be ...more
What a timely read this was! Ten years ago, the Baltimore Ravens were facing upheaval and change, internal and external struggles and public scrutiny. Sound familiar? Steve Bisciotti had just become the owner, taking over the team from the beloved Modells. They moved to their Owings Mills complex mid-season. Jamal Lewis was looking at prison time on drug charges. Key players were lost to injury, either for the season or significant periods of time. In the NFL, it seems, the characters change, bu ...more
The Gooch
Started this on the beach a few years ago and could not put it down. John blended sport, business and human nature and kept the tempo enjoyable. One regret- on our second to last day a friend mistaking lay packed it with her bag and returned to Connecticut. I still think about how relaxed and entertained I was leading up to the (my) abrupt ending to this non fiction. Maybe it was the ocean breeze, cold beers and the vacation good mood force field around me but I think any sports fan would agree. ...more
Another behind-the-scenes look at the NFL (see also A Few Seconds of Panic by Stefan Fatsis). This time it’s the Baltimore Ravens, followed through their mediocre 2004/5 season. On the Ravens roster that season were a couple of the all-time great players, Ray Lewis and Deion ‘Prime Time’ Sanders (Lewis is still there) but this is a denser, more detailed narrative account than the Fatsis book and, to be honest, I found the last couple of hundred pages a bit of a slog. Nevertheless, interesting to ...more
This is an average football book. John Feinstein really dropped the ball compared to his basketball and golf books. This book was stated to be about the next man up in football when injuries occur. However, he makes it more about each game and the personalities. This book is about the Baltimore Ravens. I'm not a Baltimore Ravens fan at all so I was more interested in what most NFL teams do during the week or summer and how decisions are made. If you have ever read a John Feinstein book then you ...more
I should have read this last year when I was first trying to like football. Feinstein does a good job of impressing upon the reader what a phenomenon football is and selling the drama... first. Unfortunately he can't sustain the excitement over a whole season's worth of events. I don't think this is a fault of the author but rather a limitation of the "cover one year of NFL games" format - as a person who documented a season's worth of NFL games I can tell you that it is difficult to keep i
Harsh Shah
This book is okay. It's fun to read if you are into sports. The author basically talks about football teams and what they go through in the off season and regular season. It also talks about how the drafts work and how contracts with NFL football players work. He also gives the statistics of how many professional football players do not continue to stay rich and how they are not paid well if they are not starters. It's overall an alright book, but it does provide some facts of the sports.
RB Love
Jul 07, 2009 RB Love rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: football fans
Feinstein was allowed full access to the 2004 – 2005 Baltimore Ravens locker rooms, scouting team, front office management, coaches, players, pr dept. – the whole deal.
Interesting anecdotes from Head Coach Brian Billick, “I feel a little like the guy who jumps off the thirty story building and as he passes each floor on the way down, says, ‘So far so good.’ P. 436.
Interesting behind the scenes, close up and personal stuff w/ Mike Nolan before he was hired by the 49ers, Ray Lewis, Jonathan Ogden,
Jerry Smith
Long, in depth analysis of the 2005 NFL season through the eyes of an embedded reporter - with the Baltimore Ravens.

Does what it set sout to do - chronicles the purchase of the team by a new owner and then goes through an entire year from draft to end of season.

Interesting, detailed, gives you a real sense of the players and coaches and what goes on behind the scenes. Ulitmately vaguely unsatidfactory at the end - makes you think "so what?"

The point that it is a huge business but essentially me
2 1/2 stars. Pretty entertaining and readable if you are into football. I enjoyed how he spent the entire year with the team and shared all the highs and lows of the Baltimore Ravens disappointing 2004 season. There were many times I felt like the book could have been shorter and tighter and more enjoyable if Feinstein would have gotten off that soapbox he likes to climb up on. There were a few moments in the book that felt like they were added just so that Feinstein could take the opportunity t ...more
Roldan Navarrete
A thrilling, yet informative read, Next Man Up tells the story of John Feinstein's year spent in the Baltimore Raven's professional football organization. Unlike most books over football (and sports in general) this book takes a more personal approach to revealing the inner workings of the National Football League. My personal favorite section was the introduction of the book, where he tells the reader the struggles he underwent to be allowed to shadow the team for a year and gives a background ...more
The interest I brought into this book made it worthwhile to me. Even though I was very curious about the day to day operations of a modern football team, the book was still frustrating at times. Feinstein focused solely on the 2004 Ravens - a team I don't really care about. For this reason, I ended up skipping many of the numerous mini-biographies Feinstein includes throughout the book (apparently this is a reoccurring habit of his in all his books). Following one team definitely helped illumina ...more
Oct 29, 2009 Alex rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to peek behind the curtain of an NFL franchise
I'm a sucker for team-history books. Not just sports, but politics and military history too. I love seeing how teams encounter problems and if they can overcome them. John Feinstein gets a backstage pass to the Balitimore Ravens as they deal with drafting, internal team strife, high expectations and injuries.

If this had been the story of a successful season this book would have been much less compelling and would probably have bordered on hagiography. As it is, the season described in the book
The problem with this book is that Feinstein gets great access, but he doesn't ever write anything that that might be even vaguely derogatory about the club. When a player is confronted by a teammate about showing up to practice with booze on his breath, that's it -- no indication of more problems under the surface. When a star player quits on the team? A quick afterthought of how he hangs his head on the bench. While I wasn't looking for a tell-all of the season, I got the clear indication that ...more
Jul 04, 2010 Hubert rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sports enthusiasts.
Shelves: sports
I've read this one & a half times (all the way through once, and then halfway through the second time). I appreciate the detail with which Feinstein was able to come away with. I also appreciate that the book details how difficult each NFL season is for each team, and that the team ended with a .500 record added a sense that the Ravens' season is perpetually difficult. Often times these sports books portray an individual or team as a heroic figure, a protagonist who summons superpowers to ov ...more
interesting, the telling involved more little vignettes about individuals in the ravens organization than i anticipated. junior's style is easy and approachable for those who pay way too much attention to football, and those who don't pay any attention. he also takes some shots at daniel snyder (redskins owner), which to a fan of his could seem cheap and gratutous, but to the real world seem appropriate.

i'm not a ravens fan, so from that standpoint it wasn't as engrossing as it would be if it we
David Tolvay
I enjoyed reading the book. While it took a long time to set the stage for the parameters of the book, as you read it, you felt like you were in the locker room or sidelines during the games, and in the coaches or GM offices between games. He was in the room for many tough situations or decisions and was able to describe the situation though conversations or verse that let you draw your own thoughts. You learn the good and bad about people. Many teams probably operate the same way. If you are a ...more
David Ward
Next Man Up: A Year Behind the Lines In Today’s NFL by John Feinstein (Little, Brown & Co. 2006)(796.33264) The focus of this volume by John Feinstein is how NFL teams draft, train, and prepare players for their chance in the game. This opportunity usually comes when another player is injured and must be replaced; the replacement is the “next man up.” Feinstein was allowed unusual access to the Baltimore Ravens locker room and training camp to research this book, and it shows. My rating: 7/1 ...more
The book covers the 2005 season so its a little dated but the names are very familiar. I didn't particularly like Feinstein's writing. There are definitely better authors covering sports but he does a decent job. The access he had for the book allowed him to write about relationships between coaches, players and the front office that I had not read about previously.

This was a good post season read and I think it would also be good any time for hard core football fans. I can't see it appealing a
Ronald White
You want to get the inside scoop of the National Football League? You want to follow the season in an extremely detailed manner? You want to see the passon to win at the highest level? You want to read a good book and enjoy reading an extraordinary writer? If the answer to all of these questions is yes, John Feinstein's "Next Man Up" is clearly your book. If, however, the answer is yes to a couple of these questions I still believe this book would be one you would likely enjoy.
William Fitzpatrick
Over all worth reading, but sluggish and plodding at times. The author does a competent job of capturing the historical narrative of events, but the book severely lacks the sense of drama, inspiration, devastation, or desperation that comes weekly in the NFL. The story of this unremarkable season that began with high expectations is told too matter of factly and fails to really capture the souls of the players, coaches, managers and owners involved.
I am a huge football fan, and even though I'm not a Raven's fan, I was actually rooting for them at the beginning of thbook. That being said, I couldn't stand the rest. I was rooting against the Ravens so they wouldn't make the playoff and the book would end. (I'm not one for quiting a book halfway through espically if I'm a few hundred pages in.) Could've been a good book, would've been a good book, should've been a good book.
Very detailed book about the Ravens. Would have been better if I liked the Ravens. Feinstein bounces between explaining every little thing to a football neophyte to complex football concepts that he fluffs over. The most interesting thing is getting a feel of the tension on a football team and the distinction between, Hall of Famer, All Pro, Regular Starter, Bubble Players. Also struck by how fluid the coaching ranks are.
Annii Frazer
I quite enjoyed this book. It was long, and a detailed read, but for a football fan bored of sports in the off-season, it was entertaining and educational. I am not a Ravens' fan, but I found myself caring more than I normally would about how their season progressed, and the personal struggles of the players and the coaches. Watching their games next season will most likely mean more to me after reading this book.
I quite enjoyed this book. It was long, and a detailed read, but for a football fan bored of sports in the off-season, it was entertaining and educational. I am not a Ravens' fan, but I found myself caring more than I normally would about how their season progressed, and the personal struggles of the players and the coaches. Watching their games next season will most likely mean more to me after reading this book.
Great read for a English NFL fan learning more behind the scenes stuff about the game. Very good book
Aaron Hubbard
I enjoy reading sports books. I enjoy reading about the trials and obsticals teams overcome during the season.

Like any good American I love the NFL. This books goes inside the Baltimore Raven as the author follows the team for a year. As a reader you get an inside look at the decisions made everyday that impact what happens on the field. If you are a true football fan you should read this book.
I really enjoy Feinstein. I am not a Raven's fan but I have always liked their organization. I thought Feinstein really took you behind the scenes and gave the reader a good look at a well run team. I do not normally read much non-fiction but I have never gone wrong reading a Feinstein book. If you are a fan of the NFL you will enjoy this book, even if you are not a fan of the Ravens.
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John Feinstein is one of the nation’s most successful and prolific sports authors who has written 24 books to date. His most recent work Are You Kidding Me? , written with Rocco Mediate, was released on May 18, 2009, and is presently on the shelf at bookstores everywhere. In addition, he is an award-winning columnist and regular contributor in both radio and television.

John Feinstein is a 1977 gr
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