As exciting as the game itself, these football players exude confidence and charm to today's public and impressionable youth. Each of these "cross-currents" biographies is a thrilling account of the best of contemporary football players. Packed with plenty of action photos, quotes from primary sources, and statistics and personal information, these books are sure to stimulate the minds of sports fans and casual readers alike.
Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings began his NFL career with a bang! For much of the 2007 season, Adrian was practically unstoppable. Although he was just 22, he was already one of the best running backs in the league. He won several awards, played in the annual Pro Bowl, and set a number of records-including rushing for 296 yards in a single game. Few players have ever made such a dramatic mark in their first year.
Even before reaching the NFL, Adrian had his share of successes. He starred for his high school team in Palestine, Texas, and had three great years for the University of Oklahoma. But Adrian's path has not always been smooth. He has also endured family tragedies, serious injuries, and disappointments on and off the playing field. Through it all, however, Adrian has remained focused, compassionate, and determined to do his best.
Meet your normal NFL tight ends. They're big. They're strong. Sometimes they're fast. Only rarely-very rarely-are they skilled at catching and running for extra yardage after the catch.
Now meet Antonio Gates, the most productive young tight end in the league. With agility, speed, power, excellent one-on-one moves, and the ability to catch and hang on to the ball, he is quickly becoming one of the best receivers in today's NFL. He is also challenging the records set by the very best players who played tight end in the past.
The funny thing is, when Antonio Gates entered the NFL he had not stepped on a football field in over five years-not since leaving high school. Basketball was his sport in college. The San Diego Chargers brought Antonio onto their team with little more than faith in his abilities and in his desire to succeed.
Asante Samuel displayed natural athletic talent from a young age. He grew up in a community affected by drugs and violence, and he saw sports as the way to a better life. In his senior year of high school, Asante switched from quarterback to defensive back. That move was Asante's first step on the path that would lead him to the National Football League.
Drafted by the New England Patriots, Asante Samuel rose from NFL rookie to Pro Bowl player in only five years. With the Patriots, Asante played in three Super Bowls and won two rings. In five short years, Asante reached the pinnacle of both team and personal success, becoming one of the best cornerbacks in the league. This book follows the twists and turns of Asante Samuel's life and career as one of NFL's great young superstars.
Brian Urlacher is a linebacker for the Chicago Bears. He is one of the finest players in the National Football League (NFL). Brian's job on defense is to stop the opposing team from scoring points. He does this with a combination of brute strength and a fierce will to never let opposing players score a touchdown or even gain a single yard while he is on the field. Urlacher stands at six feet, four inches tall and weighs more than 250 pounds, which makes him an imposing, even menacing figure on the field. In addition to being big and strong, Brian is blessed with speed and quick reflexes, which help him tackle runners and swat down passes. His intelligence also gives him a sense of what the other team is doing as a play is unfolding. All of those attributes helped him earn the honor of being named the NFL's Defensive Player of Year in 2005.
After starring on the football field in high school and at the University of Georgia, cornerback Champ Bailey was chosen by the Washington Redskins in the first round of the 1999 NFL draft. Champ quickly proved that he had what it took to be a star in the NFL. His speed, athletic ability, and understanding of the game made him a fearsome defender. Opposing quarterbacks soon learned that they would pay a high price for throwing to Champ's side of the field.
After the 2003 season, Champ signed a seven-year, $63 million contract with the Denver Broncos. This made him the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history. Champ has remained among the league's best defensive players, and has been selected for the Pro Bowl eight times. It seems certain that Champ will remain a pro football superstar for many years to come.
Donovan McNabb is one of the greatest active quarterbacks in the NFL. He has led the Philadelphia Eagles to four NFC Championship games and the Super Bowl. Donovan has set several Eagles records, and he is about to break many more. Known for his strong arm and quickness, Donovan is a fierce competitor. Off the field, Donovan is known for his support of charities and his friendly personality.
Donovan's career, however, has been marked with controversy. His conflict with wide receiver Terrell Owens received much media attention. Donovan also has been outspoken about African American quarterbacks in the NFL. His career has had setbacks, including several injuries, but through it all, Donovan has remained upbeat and determined. He has truly been an excellent role model.
They call Ed Reed a "ball-hawk." Receivers fear him and quarterbacks try to avoid throwing the football anywhere near him. The trouble is that Reed seems to be everywhere! Reed is one of the top safeties in the history of the National Football League. His trips to Hawaii to represent the Baltimore Ravens in the Pro Bowl have become annual events.
Reed is more than just one of the greatest pass interceptors in the league. He is also a thoughtful, intense man who likes to help people in need. After Hurricane Katrina struck, Reed saw the suffering of people in his home state of Louisiana, and he gave his time, money, and sweat to aid them. Reed is not just an All-Pro. He overcame his own struggles as a youth to become one of the most talented and charitable players in the National Football League.
LaDainian Tomlinson was chosen in the first round of the NFL draft by the San Diego Chargers after earning all-American recognition at Texas Christian University. Since then, he has become one of the league's most productive running backs, leading the NFL in rushing in 2006 and 2007. He also was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player after a record-setting 2006 season.
But "LT," as he is known to teammates and fans, has received almost as much recognition for his off-the-field activities. Through his Touching Lives Foundation, he supports several programs in San Diego and in his home state of Texas that address sportsmanship and education and that also provide help and hope to those in need.
Larry Fitzgerald's promising football career was interrupted by personal tragedy when his mother died of cancer while he was in college. Larry decided to dedicate his life to her, to become the kind of person she always hoped he would be. Avoiding the pitfalls many modern athletes fall victim to, he became one of the greatest wide receivers in college football history. The crowning achievement of his career was winning the Walter Camp Award as the nation's top college football player of 2003.
Larry left college early to try his hand in the National Football League. He was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals and began his pro career under the guiding hand of Dennis Green, Arizona's head coach and a longtime Fitzgerald family friend. In four brief years, Larry has posted numbers that compare favorably with the greatest receivers in the history of the NFL.
Growing up in a single parent home, Ray Lewis did not have an easy childhood. While his mother worked multiple jobs in order to pay the bills, Ray had to become a caretaker for his four younger siblings. As he entered high school, Ray was in the shadows of his estranged father, who had been a star athlete in high school. However, Ray broke all of his father's wrestling records and emerged as a star football player. He earned a scholarship to play football for the University of Miami.
Ray became one of the top linebackers in the NCAA. After his junior season, he opted to enter the NFL draft. The Baltimore Ravens selected Ray in the first round. He overcame controversy and led the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory over the New York Giants in 2001. Throughout his career, he has been one of the most dominating defensive players in the NFL. In 2007, he received his ninth invitation to the Pro Bowl.
Peyton and Eli Manning grew up in the culture of football-their father, Archie Manning, was a star quarterback for the NFL's New Orleans Saints during the 1970s. Following in his footsteps, both boys blossomed into top quarterbacks. Peyton starred at the University of Tennessee while Eli broke his father's records at "Ole Miss." In the pros, both Mannings were top draft picks.
Peyton has gone on to carve out a Hall of Fame career with the Indianapolis Colts, while Eli is starting to emerge as one of the league's top quarterbacks as he leads the New York Giants. In 2006, Peyton led his team to victory in the Super Bowl, garnering honors as the game's MVP. A year later Eli led the Giants to an upset victory in the Super Bowl while capturing the MVP trophy for himself.
As a skinny kid growing up in San Mateo, California, during the 1980s, Tom Brady dreamed of one day becoming a professional football quarterback. He overcame great odds to get there. Although Tom proved to be a star player in high school and college, most NFL teams overlooked him. Finally, the New England Patriots took him with the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL draft.
Tom worked hard and waited for his opportunity. When an injury vaulted him to the starting spot in 2001, he shocked the world by leading the Patriots to their first world championship in Super Bowl XXXVI. This was the first of three Super Bowl victories his teams would win. This book tells how a boy with big dreams grew up to become one of the most successful quarterbacks in NFL history.
Tony Romo wasn't even offered a scholarship by a single Division I-A university coming out of high school. So how did he manage to become the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, and one of the hottest rising stars in the National Football League? It was through a combination of hard work, determination, and perseverance, along with a knack for making the most of his opportunities.
Tony's rise to glory began at Eastern Illinois University, where he would eventually win the 2002 Walter Payton Award for the best offensive player in Division I-AA football. After being passed over in the NFL draft, he signed with the Cowboys as a free agent. Thus began a long and difficult quest to become the Cowboys' starting quarterback, a quest that was fulfilled in 2006. Since then Tony has become one of pro football's most exciting stars.
As an eight-year-old in a gang-ridden community, Troy Polamalu seemed destined for a life of crime. His life turned around, however, when he moved to rural Oregon to live with his uncle. He became a top athlete and eventually earned a football scholarship to the University of Southern California. Drafted in 2003 by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Troy became one of the top-rated defensive players in the National Football League in just two years.
Troy is equally noted for his hard hits and his long hair, which honors his Samoan heritage. The combination led to the nickname "the Tasmanian Devil." Despite that moniker, Troy is humble, soft-spoken, and deeply religious. Read about his fascinating story in this book.
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