Today we are joined by Jesse Berrett
, author of Pigskin Nation: How the NFL Remade American Politics
(University of Illinois Press, 2018). Berrett is a high school history teacher at University High School in San Francisco. He earned a PhD in History at the University of California, Berkeley, and has worked as a rock critic, television columnist, and book reviewer. In his new book, Berrett looks at the National Football League of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and how President Richard M. Nixon channeled his love for football into a useful tool to achieve political goals. Going to college football games like the 1969 Texas-Arkansas clash, talking baseball or drawing up plays for NFL coaches was not only a truly passionate response by Nixon, but also a productive wedge issue that allowed the president to connect with the audience he most coveted — conservative, middle-class American fans, particularly in the South. Nixon always identified with the underdog, and using sports metaphors about teamwork, character and a strong ethic were themes he hammered home in his speeches. Nixon is a major theme in this book, and the sports angle provides a fresh perspective on a conflicted, fascinating political figure. But Pigskin Nation also looks at how NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle saw a marketing bonanza and used politics to help pro football surpass major league baseball as America’s go-to sport.
Bob D’Angelo just completed work for his master’s degree in history at Southern New Hampshire University. 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. Bob currently is a national digital content editor for Cox Media Group. Bob can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information and reviews, be sure to visit Bob D’Angelo’s Books and Blogs.