Friday Night Fun: The Genius (Book Review)


Miracle of miracles, tonight's Friday Night Fun post is going to have actual 49er related information in it. This past week I just finished reading The Genius: How Bill Walsh Reinvented Football and Created an NFL Dynasty. I picked it up thinking that it was going to be an X's and O's type book about the offensive and defensive systems that Walsh ran. It wasn't. It's actually a history of the 49ers from 1979 to 1989, and a brief history of Bill Walsh before he joined the team. 

In that regard I'm somewhat disappointed. I was hoping for a more detailed look at the X's and O's. That's mostly my fault for thinking the book was something it's not, but it's also the fault of the author for naming the book the way he did. 

Here are some tidbits from the book:

  • When Walsh was in high school he always wanted to be a QB. He was left-handed and moved around a ton so he didn't get many chances. This might explain his affinity for QBs, especially a certain prominent left-handed QB
  • He was also a pretty good boxer, even winning some bouts against pro boxers. He briefly considered that as a career before realizing the folly of his ways.
  • When he was an assistant with Paul Brown he was pursued by several organizations looking for a head coach but Brown refused permission for them to interview. When Walsh accepted the job at Stanford Brown blacklisted Walsh.
  • During the 1989 1987 strike there were about a dozen 49ers who wanted to cross the picket lines before the bye week. Walsh actually talked the players into staying on strike for another week. Not so much that he agreed with the goals of the NFLPA but that he didn't want the unity of the team to be hurt. He went so far as to pay the players to stay on strike for another week
  • Because Walsh paid some players and not others it actually had the opposite affect of what he'd intended. To make up for it Eddie DeBartolo offered to pay everybody on the team a bonus if they won their first playoff game. The league fined Eddie $50,000 for this and the players chipped in to pay the fine for him. 
  • When the DeBartolo's were considering buying the 49ers Al Davis was acting as the go-between. When Eddie Sr showed showed up with Eddie Jr to buy the team Davis told them that the price had gone up by $500,000. Eddie Sr balked at that, declaring that he didn't do business that way. Eddie Jr convinced him that it was worth the extra 500k.
Overall this is definitely an entertaining read and something I'd recommend to the 49er fan. There are a couple of quirks that annoy me. The author tends to give a quote and then sources it by saying "a former player", or an "offensive lineman". However it's not enough for me to recommend against reading the book.

I'd definitely give this a 4 out of 5 stars. 

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