Books | Sports

August 31, 2009

Freedom Fighting in the NFL

The physical effort writer Stefan Fatsis put in to compete at an NFL training camp is nothing compared to the daily mental grind players are subjected to across the league.

Michael Gluckstadt

When Stefan Fatsis first joined the Denver Broncos training camp as a placekicker in 2006, he didn't set out to expose the totalitarian style of management favored by NFL franchises. And yet, a year after the release of his book on that experience, A Few Seconds of Panic: A Sportswriter Plays in the NFL, Fatsis cheekily compares himself to Czech anticommunist reformer Alexander Dubcek. "There's no reason that NFL teams have to be run like East Germany," Fatsis tells Gelf. "There's no requirement that secrecy, tension and disrespect be their governing management principles."

Though it may be a while before democracy comes to flourish in NFL locker rooms, Fatsis's former club currently is demonstrating the problems with the current system. Denver's new head coach, the young Josh McDaniels, has followed his mentor Bill Belichick's lead in implementing a tightly guarded management system. The result for the Broncos has been an embarrassing trade of their starting quarterback, and a public tantrum by their star receiver.

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Article by Michael Gluckstadt

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