In my experience, people either love or hate football, and I’m convinced that those who hate it only do so because they don’t fully understand it. There’s something about the game that demands a reaction, and for those of us that love it - and I mean truly love it - there are always stories of how that love began, who cultivated it, and why it is such an important part of our lives.
More often than not there’s a personal sentimentality toward the game and many feel as if they were born to do nothing else but be a part of football. For Emory Hunt, owner and analyst of Football Gameplan (FGP), he would tell you just that. In his book, “Football: A Love Story,” Hunt, along with the Football Gameplan team, introduces us to coaches, players, execs, entrepreneurs, about entertainers, and collected over 100 stories on their love for the game of football.
I asked Hunt why he decided to write this book and the answer was nothing short of purposeful. He describes how in 2015, the movie “Concussion,” which highlighted the neurological deterioration of the brain known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), premiered and casted a black cloud over the sport. “There was so much negativity surrounding football at that time. To be honest, there still is. It was good to get some positivity out there. We needed it. It’s a book that everyone can benefit from. We can all relate to having a passion or a love for something.”
Originally, the FGP team reached out to over 200 people. “We wanted that exact number,” Hunt said. “But I’m more than happy with the responses we got. We were able to share over 100 stories that may have never been told.” Every person (both men and women are profiled) was asked the same questions, and as you would expect, many of them have similar stories. For some, football was a way to stay out of trouble in rough neighborhoods, while for others, football was a passed-down appreciation.
Overall, the theme of being successful young men both on and off the field may be one of the most quoted ideas throughout the book, especially expressed by the profiled coaches. Coaches are taking on the role as a figurative father-figure to the young men on their team and they see their job as an important responsibility to help shape the future of those they’ve coached.
Hunt even tells his own story and praises the game of football for helping to shape his life. At the age of five, he immersed himself in the game and never looked back. After an injury in college sidelined his playing career, he took on coach-like duties. Hunt says these responsibilities helped pique his interest in coaching, which he did at his old high school in New Orleans. After a brief stint in corporate America, Hunt realized that he wasn’t ready to give up on football just yet. In 2007, Football Gameplan was born. When asked about his legacy, Hunt says that he hopes when future generations sit down and turn on their TV to watch Football Gameplan, they will say “it is a place where football finally makes sense.”
I tried to get Hunt to tell me which of the profiles was his favorite, but in his true objective fashion he could not. “I honestly can’t pick a favorite. The beauty of the book is that everyone’s story is so unique. It made the process fun, and in turn makes the book fun.”
If you’re a football lover or just someone who wants to read some truly inspiring stories, this book cannot be missed.