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Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football

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Rob Carr

I recently read the book Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football by Nicholas Dawidoff. Dawidoff was given complete and exclusive access to the 2011 New York Jets, and ate, slept, and generally lived with the team for a full year. In the book, Dawidoff reveals a breathtaking amount of information and nuggets that simply were not revealed to the general public. Dawidoff spares no expense to highlight some incredible information about the NFL Draft, Rex Ryan, Brian Schottenheimer, Mike Pettine, Mark Sanchez, and others. As GM Mike Tannenbaum says to Dawidoff at the beginning of the year, "Anything can happen... Things can go very badly." And things certainly did go badly, as the team ended up 8-8 and Schottenheimer was fired soon after the end of the season.

I won't reveal too much that was said in the book, but here are a few quotes:

I wanted to know why Smitty had played on an arm that had nearly been removed from his body and he said, "I was thinking, I can't let Rex down. That's what all the guys felt. It's very rare. He's like our dad. We don't want to let our dad down. Everybody in Baltimore misses him... The hardest thing besides not being able to play football is not to be able to be a part of that defense and play for Rex."

Tannenbaum's instructions to Contento and Tubito at Radio City were to write down Muhammad Wilkerson on the card but do nothing while the Jets fielded offers. Lowballs were lobbed over the facility wall. Clinkscales called Wilkerson to make sure he was intact. Then he put the player on hold. Four minutes left. A tasty offer arrived from Dallas-but not as tasty as 314 pounds of fast-twitching Wilkerson. Tannenbaum took the phone and greeted his new lineman, and then Ryan took over: "Everything you got, Muhammad! None of this bullshit every-other-play!" The scouts poured into the room. Hugs and handshakes were exchanged. "He'll be a ten-year player for us," said Tannenbaum. Wilkerson appeared on the TV screen. "Look at those arms!" marveled Ryan.

Tom Moore said that when he first saw the Jets offensive playbook it made him feel that in Indianapolis, he and Peyton Manning had run "a mom-and-pop operation." Longer offensive play calls typically designated passes and went like this: "Twins Right Middle Gun Scan Right F Yogi X Oklahoma H Balloon." Westhoff was horrified by all the words: "It's catastrophic. It's another language. Like the Dead Sea Scrolls."

As you can imagine, the book is filled with fascinating tidbits. There is plenty on Scotty McKnight, who was not well received by the team and caused significant division amongst the scouting staff. There is a significant amount about how Rex Ryan, Mike Pettine, and Dennis Thurman would create the defensive game plan. And most importantly, there is a lot of information on the divisions among the team that caused it to splinter by the end of the year. I can't recommend this book enough. It's one of those books that you won't want to sleep until you've finished. Every paragraph you read you'll learn five new things about your favorite team.

Click here to purchase the hardcover version of Collision Low Crossers, and here to purchase the Amazon Kindle version.