Kick these suggestions around:
== “Hollywood’s Team: Grit, Glamour and the 1950s Los Angeles Rams,” by Jim Hock with Michael Downs, Rare Bird Books, 384 pages, $24.95 (will be released Dec. 6). The blurb: Hock, the youngest of seven by the late Rams offensive lineman John Hock, takes us back to when Norm Van Brocklin, “Crazy Legs” Hirsch, Bob Waterfield, Dick “Night Train” Lane and a PR man named Pete Rozelle figured out how to make pro sports work in L.A. before the Dodgers’ arrival. Hock’s contention is they were the first modern sports franchise — which leads, of course, to moving to another city, then coming back, then finding you aren’t the big fish any longer. At least we have these memories.
== “The Yucks: Two Years in Tampa with the Losingest Team in NFL History,” by Jason Vuic, Simon & Schuster, 256 pages, $26 (released Aug. 30). The blurb: Vuic once wrote a book, “The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History,” but his lifelong love of the Bucs since their expansion birth is more of an accident waiting to happen. It starts with the franchise hiring USC’s John McKay to be its head man, and bringing along star running back Ricky Bell. What could go wrong when suited up as orange Push-ups? The team lost 26 in a row, from the launch in 1976 through the next-to-last game in ’77 — a road win over Archie Manning and the New Orleans Saints, who immediately fired their head coach, Hank Stram. McKay’s dry humor was the only reason to bother following the team at that point — no matter that in 1979, they were playing the Rams in the NFC title game.
== “Snake: The Legendary Life of Ken Stabler,” by Michael Freeman, Dey Street Books, 272 pages, $27.99, (Released Nov. 15). The blurb: We found our dog-eared paperback copy of “Snake,” which listed Stabler as the author (with Berry Stainback) and came out in the late ’80s with the subtitle “The On- and Off-the-Field Exploits of Football’s Wildest Renegade,” and included an illustration of a Raiders helmet filled with beer cans and a pair of female legs hanging out of it. Who wouldn’t want to be Stabler back then? Freeman, whose previous books have included a look at the life of Jim Brown, an expose called “Bloody Sunday,” and an “uncensored history” of ESPN, lands it again with the caveat that Stabler, who died in July, 2015 of colon cancer, was also very affected by CTE brain disease. The book comes out now, with his current wife’s blessing, as well as Stabler’s recent Pro Football Hall induction, all after his life ended. Continue reading