Book Review

One Knee Equals Two Feet (1986) Review


Boom. Speed kills. How about Brett Favre? For those of you youngsters who don’t know, John Madden isn’t just some fat old guy with his name on a video game. If you’re my age, you remember him most not for Sunday Night Football alongside Al Michaels on NBC, but beside Pat Summerall on Fox. Older football fans remember the dynamic duo on CBS. They also remember the days before he stepped into the broadcast booth to clutch a microphone in his ham fist like a turkey leg. He roamed the sidelines as the Oakland Raiders head coach for 10 seasons when the Raiders were the collective “bad boys” of the NFL. He kept them under control to win Super Bowl XI. The man knows football, and in 1986’s One Knee Equals Two Feet (And Everything Else You Need to Know About Football), he tries to impart some of his knowledge.

Madden succeeds in his attempt, but it’s not a complete success. There’s two looming issues between these pages. One is Madden’s fault, and the second is Father Time’s fault. Let’s look at these issues one at a time. The presentation of One Knee Equals Two Feet is almost a “football for dummies.” Madden tries to impart his knowledge of what each position does, then gives a short list of the best he’s ever seen, which becomes a smaller issue. He succeeds in breaking down positions, but fails by putting too much emphasis on what he looked for, liked, or wanted. Several times he comes across as a cranky old-timer, and in 1986 he was far from an old-timer. Check out the image on the cover. His list excludes so many greats of the game and making it a list of those he’s seen gets filled by many of his old Raiders.

The biggest issue is this book came out in 1986. Most of the players he mentions were well before my time. I’ve heard of them thanks to my dad and NFL Films specials. The few I do recall are vague and hazy. I hadn’t even started school when this book came out. If you’re a new fan or young fan, there’s a good chance you won’t know who any of these players are outside of Fox Sunday Pre-Game hosts Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long.

One Knee Equals Two Feet is two books in one. The breakdown by position and explaining what each one does is helpful to a certain extent. However, the game has changed a lot in 30 years, and some of these rules and standards no longer apply. The rest is Madden talking about himself and his players without going in depth, and his coaching philosophy. Oh, and how great his old Raiders were. I can’t recommend this book to anyone but fans of Madden’s old Raiders teams or people who remember the 1970s and early 1980s NFL.

Copyright © Drew Martin 2017


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