Collision of Wills
Johnny Unitas, Don Shula, and the Rise of the Modern NFL
University of Nebraska Press 2018
Today we are joined by Jack Gilden, author of the book Collision of Wills: Johnny Unitas, Don Shula, and the Rise of the Modern NFL (University of Nebraska Press, 2018). In this groundbreaking book, Gilden takes the reader back to the Baltimore Colts of the mid-1960s, led by the best quarterback in the game (Johnny Unitas) and an up-and-coming coach (Don Shula) who would win more games than any other NFL coach and would preside over the NFL’s only perfect season. What should have been a harmonious relationship between a player and coach with similar goals — winning titles — instead became a contentious coexistence where both men barely concealed their contempt for one another. The Colts reached the NFL championship game in 1964, lost a bizarre playoff to Green Bay in 1965, and were shut out of the playoffs in 1967 despite an 11-1-2 record. The team went 15-1 in 1968 to win the NFL title but then lost to the upstart New York Jets of the AFL in Super Bowl III. Based on solid research and interviews with former players and coaches — including Shula — Gilden peels back the fog of 1960s football to bring two giants of the game into sharper focus. With a backstory of the turbulent changes in American culture of the 1960s also coming into play, Gilden provides a different and absorbing view of two American idols.
Bob D’Angelo earned his master’s degree in history from Southern New Hampshire University in May 2018. He earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Florida and spent more than three decades as a sportswriter and sports copy editor, including 28 years on the sports copy desk at The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune. He can be reached at [email protected]. For more information, visit Bob D’Angelo’s Books and Blogs.