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A Few Seconds of Panic: A 5-Foot-8, 170-Pound, 43-Year-Old Sportswriter Plays in the NFL
A Few Seconds of Panic: A 5-Foot-8, 170-Pound, 43-Year-Old Sportswriter Plays in the NFL
A Few Seconds of Panic: A 5-Foot-8, 170-Pound, 43-Year-Old Sportswriter Plays in the NFL
Audiobook11 hours

A Few Seconds of Panic: A 5-Foot-8, 170-Pound, 43-Year-Old Sportswriter Plays in the NFL

Written by Stefan Fatsis

Narrated by Stefan Fatsis

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars



About this audiobook

In Word Freak, Stefan Fatsis infiltrated the insular world of competitive Scrabble players, ultimately achieving expert status (comparable to a grandmaster ranking in chess). Now he infiltrates a strikingly different subculture-pro football. After more than a year spent working out with a strength coach and polishing his craft with a gurulike kicking coach, Fatsis molded his fortyish body into one that could stand up-barely-to the rigors of NFL training. And over three months in 2006, he became a Denver Bronco. He trained with the team and lived with the players. He was given a locker and uniforms emblazoned with the number 9. He was expected to perform all the drills and regimens required of other kickers. He ws unlike his teammates in some ways-most notably, his livelihood was not on the line as theirs was. But he became remarkably like them in many ways: he risked crippling injury just as they did, endured the hazing that befalls all rookies, daily gorged on 4,000 calories, and slogged through two-a-day practices in blistering heat. Not since George Plimpton's stint as a Detroit Lion more than forty years ago has a writer tunneled so deeply into the NFL.

At first, the players tolerated Fatsis or treated him like a mascot, but over time they began to think of him as one of them. And he began to think like one of them. Like the other Broncos-like all elite athletes-he learned to perfect a motion through thousands of repetitions, to play through pain, to silence the crowd's roar, and to banish self-doubt.

While Fatsis honed his mind and drove his body past exhaustion, he communed with every classic athletic type-the afable alpha male, the overpaid brat, the youthful phenom, the savvy veteran-and a welter of bracingly atypical players as well: a fullback who invokes Aristotle, a quarterback who embraces yoga, and a tight end who takes creative writing classes in the off-season. Fatsis also witnessed the hidden machinery of a top-flight football franchise, from the God-is-in-the-details strategizing of legendary coach Mike Shanahan to the icy calculation with which the front office makes or breaks careers.

With wry candor and hard-won empathy, A Few Seconds of Panic unveils the mind of the modern pro athlete and the workings of a storied sports franchise as no book ever has before.
PublisherTantor Audio
Release dateJul 17, 2008
A Few Seconds of Panic: A 5-Foot-8, 170-Pound, 43-Year-Old Sportswriter Plays in the NFL

Stefan Fatsis

Stefan Fatsis is the bestselling author of Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players and Wild and Outside: How a Renegade Minor League Revived the Spirit of Baseball in America's Heartland. He reported on sports for more than a decade for The Wall Street Journal and talks about sports every week on National Public Radio's All Things Considered. His work also has appeared on the websites Slate and Deadspin. Stefan lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, Melissa Block, and their daughter, Chloe.

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    This was a great look at the behind the scenes world of the NFL. The Broncos let Stefan Fatsis behind the scenes as a kicker (he's actually not half bad). It gives a realistic view of what really goes on in the world of football. And by the end, you're really rooting for him to play!
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    Like George Plimpton, Fatsis puts you in the locker room and on the field with the N.F.L. gladiators. He's a wry and sensitive guide to the rigors of the gladiator culture. His on-field goal is modest - to behave as a professional. He succeeds, but he's even better on the page because he makes you care about these young men who often wilt under the pressure but all the more human for doing so.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    A few years ago, Stefan Fatsis set out to become a Scrabble champion. Now he is trying to be a player in the National Football League. In A Few Seconds of Panic, Fatsis sets out to be an active participant in a National Football League training camp. Given his physical size, athletic prowess and reconstructed knee, he sees the role of kicker as one that may work for him. Fatsis quotes Jason Elam, the Denver Broncos incumbent kicker during that training camp, describing the role of kicker as "hours and hours of boredom surrounded by a few seconds of panic." The book is far from boring. If you enjoyed Wordfreak, Fatsis' book on Scrabble, you will also enjoy this book. Even if you are not a football fan. When Fatsis is not competing at Scrabble or football, Fatsis is a sports writer for the Wall Street Journal.Fatsis convinces the National Football League to let him join a team in training camp as long as he can find a team willing to let him in. This is not an easy task in the very controlling NFL. He finally convinces the Denver Broncos to let him participate in training camp. Fatsis participates in training camp and even suits up for a pre-season game against the Detroit Lions. Although the NFL refuses to allow him to participate in the game.Fatsis tries to make some comparisons between football and Scrabble: Both great football players and great Scrabble players say that when they're in the proverbial zone, the game decelerates and the instantly see the answer. I, for one, think that's easier to accomplish without the continual threat of being steamrolled by a charging goliath, which is not a major concern in Scrabble.A Few Seconds of Panic is full of insight to the psyche of a football and football players. It is a great exploration of the psychology of competitive athletes.
  • Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
    This story is in line with George Plimpton’s 1963 book called Paper Lion, where Plimpton was allowed to join the Detroit Lions in training camp. I must say that Fatsis is on point with the aptly named first chapter of his book “I’m No Plimpton”. Although I have yet to read Paper Lion, I have read and enjoyed other Plimpton works. But I digress, A few Seconds of Panic wasn’t all bad. It was a nice behind the scenes view of a football team during its most transitional period; training camp. When he approached the NFL with his idea of a player/reporter they said yes, provided he could find a team willing to bring him onboard. After plenty of rejections, the Denver Bronco’s finally agreed to have Fatsis join their club.I applaud Fatsis for his fortitude and stay-with-it-ness in preparing himself as a reporter disguised as a genuine place kicker. His attitude and dedication to the kicking craft allowed him to bond with the players around him as if he were just another player vying for a roster spot. This attitude and determination helped bring down the protective barrier of skepticism players usually have towards the media and allowed for some very candid moments with some of the Bronco Players.The book had its interesting moments but I can’t claim it as a page turner. I think he could have said what he needed to say in about 200 pages, yet the book lingered on for nearly 140 too many.

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