Thursday, September 1, 2022

Review—Bronko: The Legendary Story of the NFL's Greatest Two-Way Fullback

 By John Turney 
Chris Willis, the head of the Research Library at NFL Films, has a new book—his eighth—entitled Bronko: The Legendary Story of the NFL's Greatest Two-Way Fullback.

This book on Bronko Nagurski follows up his treatise on Red Grange and it is full of original and unique research and details we'd never heard before. It covers Nagurski's life—pre-football, his career, and his post-NFL playing days and does it well.

Willis is always so fluent in his writings of the Pre-World War II era and can make it relatable to younger readers who may not be enthralled with the NFL from that far back. 

As he had for his books on Red Grange and Joe Carr, Willis enjoyed the cooperation of the Nagurski family with access to loads of personal files and records and the inclusion of details from those documents makes the book more enriching and vivid.

Nagurski's early life is interesting as a Canadian by birth and as a Minnesotan, by residence, he worked on a farm and in local mills and built up tremendous strength. His collegiate career is covered very well with recounting of the numerous positions he played and the games he starred in for the University of Minnesota. 

The book recounts his tremendous Hall of Famer career for the Chicago Bears from 1930-37, then in 1943—and the gap between when he was a professional wrestler. 

Particularly interesting was the back-and-forth correspondence between Nagurski and Bears owner George Halas concerning contract negotiations since Halas was always trying to either cut or limit raises that the All-Pro was seeking and thought he'd earned.

Also covered well is the 1932 NFL Championship game that was played indoors that the Bears won with the help of a controversial jump pass by Nagurski to Red Grange. 

Also of note is that Willis had not planned to write the book on Nagurski but was convinced to do so after becoming acquainted with Nagurski's son. The younger Nagurski had read Willis' volume on Red Grange and wanted something similar for his father and eventually, Willis took on the project. 

This is a fine, fine book and highly recommended. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review. I'll have to get a copy, because I love the history of football.