Of all sports, baseball and golf seem to generate the best books. I’m not sure why this is, but I have a couple of theories. In baseball, reporters have more access to players and coaches than they do in any other sport. This helps would-be authors build relationships and uncover tidbits and anecdotes to craft a well-executed long-form narrative.
Golf offers a few pressure-packed moments during majors that turn regular guys into mythical figures that talented writers turn into books about life lessons and the deeper meaning of hitting a small white ball into a cup. Either that or talented writers get so bored watching golf that they write a book to keep themselves interested.
Football has some interesting books, but not nearly as many as baseball or golf. Access to players and management is also severely restricted in football when compared to other sports. This unfortunate fact makes it extremely unlikely that my dream project will ever see the light of day: A behind-the-scenes peak at Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers modeled after Michael Lewis’s Moneyball.
Moneyball examined how Billy Beane and the small-market Oakland A’s used innovative scouting and player evaluation methods to overcome a shoestring budget and remain competitive with the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox. Many people think Moneyball is about statistical analysis, but it really isn’t. It’s about innovation in the stubborn world of baseball. It’s also about Beane’s mindset as he tries to remain one step ahead of fellow GMs that have more resources and bigger budgets.
That’s the kind of book I want to read about Thompson.
I know Thompson is shy, builds through the draft and avoids free agency, but I want to know more. Does he utilize any sort of quantitative analysis like you find on Football Outsiders? What, specifically, is he looking for when evaluating little-known rookie free agents or castoffs from other teams? What sort of demands does he put on his scouts? How does he define value?
What does he do when he gets angry? What is a conversation like between Thompson and another GM? Why does he think many of his draft picks on defense are prone to injuries? How often does he alter his overall roster plan? Is he just as shy and awkward dealing with players as he is with the media?