We’re a month away from meaningful football returning to our lives, and while we wait to hear if Marcus Maye will get his desired contract, or if the Jets will sign a new right tackle in Morgan Moses, I decided it was time to introduce book reviews into the equation.
I’m an avid reader, I read a whole host of genres but I do tend to read a lot of sport biographies and autobiographies.
I recently read The Point After by Sean Conley, my first book about an NFL kicker and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Kickers tend to go unnoticed unless they do something wrong, think Doug Brien in the 2004 playoffs. I imagine it’s the same on the shelves of book stores around the world, so I wanted to highlight what was a fantastic read.
“Being a kicker is a lonely job. I can be a hero or the goat of the game. My opponents are the wind, the cold, and the 10-foot-high metal posts that I have to kick the ball through, but also anxiety, fear and worry. My allies are confidence and hitting the ball just right. Missing it by a sliver can send the ball careening outside the uprights and my mood into pits of despair. I remind myself to think positive.”
The Point After by Conley is an inspirational read about grit, determination and a refusal to give up on a dream. From being diagnosed with ADHD and attending a school with no football program, to landing at a Division III school before walking on at Pittsburgh and eventually making into NFL camps, it’s hard to walk away from this book without being inspired to chase your own goals.
Conley makes leaps of faith at every turn and there is a bravery there that few of us really possess. Even when missing kicks at the Division III level, Conley refused to pack his bags and head off home. Unfortunately, it was that relentless drive and desire that would eventually unravel Conley’s hopes of a long and successful NFL career.
“The chances of successfully making the jump from college to the NFL as a kicker are slim. In 1993, the NFL had 28 teams. Each team carried just one kicker. There is no “backup kicker”: 28 teams, 28 jobs for kickers. That’s just 28 positions in the entire world for what I do.”
Sean’s single-mindedness would eventually come back to haunt him as overuse injuries meant that he had to call time earlier than expected. He was with the Jets for a very short period, but by that point the power that he was renowned for had faded and after a short stint in the CFL and NFL Europe it was time to finally admit that a new direction was needed.
I didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I did, that’s just me being completely honest. However, it was one of the better autobiographies that I’ve read. It’s about persistence, it’s about supporting a family and relying on the support of a family to reach your goals. It touches on the psychological aspect of being a kicker, the cut-throat nature of not just professional sports but college sports as well.
One of the biggest lessons to take from The Point After is having self-awareness that there is more to football, that you define who you are, and when all is said and done, you’re not defined by football itself. You can’t help but emphasize with Sean throughout this book, and you can’t help but emphasize with his wife Karen either, who offers unwavering support throughout. You do become emotionally invested and that for me is one of the greatest compliments you can ever give a book.
The Point After currently has a 4.6/5 rating on Good Reads and a perfect 5* rating on Amazon, so if you don’t believe me, believe everyone else. Head out pick it up, and you won’t be disappointed.