Thanksgiving: Noted not only for excessive food and family tension, but also for the life-saving distraction that is NFL week 12. The Packers play the Lions, the Dolphins play the Cowboys, and the 49ers play the Ravens on this year’s big Thursday. After you’re done gorging, pick up a book to kill the time until kickoff. You’ll also look too busy to help out with the dishes.
Boys Will Be Boys by Jeff Pearlman
Both the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys host a game every year in the Thanksgiving Classic, an NFL tradition as reliable as the good ol’ tryptophan coma. And while Dallas’s dynasty has been a bit… on the wane, Cowboys fans looking for a trip down memory lane would do well to pick up this warts-and-all account of how the Cowboys went from league joke to championship-winning machine in the 1990s. (Note: not for the squeamish or the prudish.) And, Lions fans: That book about Detroit’s decade-long dominance? Somehow, it went missing.
Through My Eyes by Tim Tebow and Nathan Whitaker
Tebow’s memoir came out just before he dropped way, way down in the Broncos’ pecking order — but obsessing over the Golden Boy quarterback is as American as the sport itself. Tebow delves into his religious beliefs and lays out his steps for success (simply: If you want to be better at sports than everyone else, it’s best to be really good at sports), now with just a hint of unintentional smarminess considering he’s since clawed his way back up to starting QB. But seriously, pick it up — it’s an illuminating glimpse inside the mind of an elite athlete.
Family Huddle by Peyton, Eli, and Archie Manning, illus. by Jim Madsen
The three pro football-playing Mannings take to the page for this fully-illustrated children’s book, centering on fitness and the value of spending time with loved ones. If you think things are tense around your dinner table, think of poor Cooper; the oldest brother — he works in energy investment — doesn’t even get a byline.
Captain for Life by Harry Carson
Carson takes you from his unlikely triumphs as a South Carolina youngster to his tough battles with post-concussion syndrome and damaged relationships. Not to get all schmaltzy, but you’ll be thankful you didn’t play pro football when you read about Carson’s many injuries. To get very schmaltzy, you’ll be inspired by his improbable journey to the Hall of Fame.
Death to the BCS by Dan Wetzel, Josh Peter and Jeff Passan
Go behind the scenes and through the paper trail to find out how “the Cartel” that runs the Bowl Championship Series is screwing you and everyone else out of an equitable and profitable college football season. The book’s most damning revelation: After all the payouts, bonuses, and other costs built into to the bowl system, the University of Florida pocketed less than $50,000 for winning the whole thing in 2009. Isn’t greed awful? Now, get back to stuffing yourself with turkey, mashed potatoes and pecan pie.