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the story behind the book

Tackling football in ‘Collision’ by Nicholas Dawidoff

David Wilson for the boston globe

Baseball is a lifelong passion for author Nicholas Dawidoff and the subject of several of his previous books. Football, on the other hand, presents challenges. “Writers have often had difficulty writing about football,’’ he said in a telephone interview. “Part of it is that it is a distant sport. You look at the players they’re covered in armor and they have masks on their faces.”

Dawidoff also says that watching games was, at least for him, somewhat frustrating. “I felt as though when I watched a [football] game on Sunday there was a whole process and even plan that was flickering behind the incredibly intense spectacle that was taking place in front of me,’’ he said. “What I wanted to do was to go and see what is really the most substantial part of a professional football player or coach’s life, which is the process of creating a football game.”

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The result is “Collision Low Crossers,” a chronicle of Dawidoff’s year behind the scenes with the New York Jets and their head coach Rex Ryan (“a great American character,” Dawidoff said).

“For me perhaps the most interesting thing was the way in which they deal with failure,” Dawidoff said. “What I really admired was the way people could face up to loss and engage with it and absorb it and yet move forward in an optimistic way.”

In an era marked by concern about football’s head injuries and their long-term impact, Dawidoff is confident the game will adapt. “I think the game will continue to become faster and faster, more and more passing, which in turn will make defenses more creative,” he said. “That’s great for fans.”

What of today’s games? “A person is courting doom if they try to predict football,” he said, while adding, when pressed, “If you had to bet, if you were just compelled to, you should probably choose the team with the better quarterback. I’m talking to The Boston Globe, right? Tom Brady. My hunch would be that New England and Seattle will win.”

Dawidoff will read from his new book Thursday at 7 p.m. at Newtonville Books.

Kate Tuttle, a writer and editor, can be reached at kate.tuttle@gmail.com.
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