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The inside story of the most colorful decade in NFL history—pro football’s raging, hormonal, hairy, druggy, immortal adolescence.

Between the Immaculate Reception in 1972 and The Catch in 1982, pro football grew up. In 1972, Steelers star Franco Harris hitchhiked to practice. NFL teams roomed in skanky motels. They played on guts, painkillers, legal steroids, fury, and camaraderie. A decade later, Joe Montana’s gleamingly efficient 49ers ushered in a new era: the corporate, scripted, multibillion-dollar NFL we watch today. Kevin Cook’s rollicking chronicle of this pivotal decade draws on interviews with legendary players—Harris, Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Ken “Snake” Stabler—to re-create their heroics and off-field carousing. He shows coaches John Madden and Bill Walsh outsmarting rivals as Monday Night Football redefined sports’ place in American life. Celebrating the game while lamenting the physical toll it took on football’s greatest generation, Cook diagrams the NFL’s transformation from second-tier sport into national obsession.

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