Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Book 33: Dick Vermeil: Whistle in His Mouth, Heart on His Sleeve

Dick Vermeil: Whistle in His Mouth, Heart on His Sleeve was a disappointing book by Gordon Forbes. I really wanted to like it. It’s talking about some of the golden years of the Philadelphia Eagles and one of the best coaches that entered the NFL. I’m a die-hard bleeding green Eagles fan that will watch every game even if that means I’m awake at 2 AM to do so and yet this book failed for me. It was too much about the Eagles and not enough about Dick. If only I was told this was a Philadelphia Eagles history book, I would have given this a rave review.

The biggest fault that I have with this book is the nature of how it’s sold. If it was sold as a Philadelphia Eagles book during the Dick Vermeil age, I would have loved it. But it was suppose to be a Dick Vermeil biography. It only talked briefly about his time outside of the reign with the Eagles. He did some great things with UCLA, the Rams and Chiefs. I really wanted to know more about his growth as a coach. Especially how his coaching compared with his UCLA days and his Eagles days, but I quite frankly I still don’t know enough about his UCLA days to really do that.

Plus at times, the stories got a little repetitive. I would have liked to see more variety between stories. See how his heart came out a little bit more. You got the work aspect to Vermeil and that he is sincere but not the why he’s so likable. But I think some of this is due to the fact that this is an unauthorized biography. He could only go to some people and draw on the old public records. If he could sit down with Vermeil and more of his friends, I’m sure it would be even richer.

You could see how Vermeil really lived by the belief if you work hard, good things will follow. Long hours and long days will help create good solutions. It’s an idea that I believe myself. It was great to see how the stories I’ve seen in movies like Invincible were true. It’s how I want my Philadelphia coaches to be. Working hard pretty much all day and all night long, creating that perfect game plan and getting the Eagles/Flyers to play at their very peak.

I also really like Gordon Forbe’s writing style. You can tell he’s a Philadelphia Inquirer sports writer. He GETS the team and the fan mentality and he is able to weave it into a good read. It’s a quick book and very enjoyable.

One of my favorite aspects of the book is in the epilogue. I really liked seeing the off-season conditioning guide. I think I got more of Dick Vermeil’s personality in this guide. It’s so detailed an it’s smartly written. It’s one of those real gems and you got to see how the little things of conditioning are really in there. The need to balance out the aerobic/rest/flexibilty/nutrition/and strength are so important and it’s there. Plus you got to see how it’s broken out for the different types of players. As a person interested in fitness and sports, I LOVED this. It’s a guide that could still work today.

Another thing I like about this book is the idea of Dick Vermeil’s burnout. It not only showed how it happened but it also did the unthinkable, question if a coach could really burn out. Few coaches burn out at least in those terms. Some will take some time out or just fizzle out but not many will say they couldn’t hack it anymore. There are some coaches that coach for years on end and only leave the vocation due to retirement or being fired due to lack of performance. It’s a good discussion to have in a book. But I do believe that coaches can and do burn out but few have the courage to call it such.

I learned SO MUCH about the Eagles. I hate to say it, but I don’t have the history aspect to the Philadelphia Eagles other then the stats and knowing the really big names. It’s hard to know about a team you never see play (since you weren’t born when it happened). I didn’t realize how many times and how close Joe Paw nearly left Penn State. To see the record about Paterno’s interview and near hire with the Eagles was really cool to see since JoePaw is the face of Penn State football. Plus I learned about the problems of ownership and coaches.

I enjoyed Dick Vermeil: Whistle in His Mouth, Heart on His Sleeve. It had so much history and good stuff in it. But it fails as a biography. I wanted to know more about his life and his tenures outside of the Philadelphia Eagles. It would have been a longer book but it would have been better for it.

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