Guest Post #2: The Republic of Football by Chad S. Conine

Legends of the Texas High School Game
Chad S. Conine
Genre: Texas Sports History / Biographies
Date of Publication: September 6, 2016
Publisher: University of Texas Press
# of pages: 288
Scroll down for Giveaway!

Anywhere football is played, Texas is the force to reckon with. Its powerhouse programs produce the best football players in America. In The Republic of Football, Chad S. Conine vividly captures Texas’s impact on the game with action-filled stories about
legendary high school players, coaches, and teams from around the state and across seven decades. 

Drawing on dozens of interviews, Conine offers rare glimpses of the early days of some of football’s biggest stars. He reveals that some players took time to achieve greatness—LaDainian Tomlinson wasn’t even the featured running back on his high school team until a breakthrough game in his senior season vaulted him to the highest level of the sport—while others, like Colt McCoy, showed their first flashes of brilliance in middle school. In telling these and many other stories of players and coaches, including Hayden Fry, Spike Dykes, Bob McQueen, Lovie Smith, Art Briles, Lawrence Elkins, Warren McVea, Ray Rhodes, Dat Nguyen, Zach Thomas, Drew Brees, and Adrian Peterson, Conine spotlights the decisive moments when players caught fire and teams such as Celina, Southlake Carroll, and Converse Judson turned into Texas dynasties.

“This is a wonderful, well-written book, full of compelling details and stories. A ‘must read’ for any Texas football fan.” —DAVE CAMPBELL Dave Campbell’s Texas Football

 University of Texas Press

The Memorable Moments

Guest Post

By Chad S. Conine

There are moments from writing The Republic of Football that resurface and make me wish I was still in the middle of the adventure of gathering all the material for the chapters.

I interviewed around 130 former and current football players and coaches during a 14-month period that was kind of a roller coaster. That 130-ish might sound like a big number, but the actual number of interviews doesn’t seem that high to me. It’s less than 10 a month when I could have easily and happily conducted 10 per week. The big number is the quantity of emails and phone calls I made to get the interviews. That anxiety I felt as I waited for returned calls or emails definitely proved the most difficult part of the project. Those are not the moments that I remember fondly. But they had their purpose.

In the summer of 2014, I was attempting to patch together an NFL training camp tour. This was a key part of the project because once the NFL season started, I knew I would have a hard time getting access to the players I wanted to include. Then, following the season, they would scatter, and I really wouldn’t be able to do any interviews until OTAs (optional team activities) in May and June of 2015. I was supposed to turn in the manuscript by the start of football season 2015, so it wasn’t going to be possible to turn 15 interviews from OTAs into chapters in that amount of time. It had to be in training camp.

Then things came together. I targeted a specific area of the country that had some of the biggest names from Texas — Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby, Detroit Lions quarterback Matt Stafford, and Indianapolis Colts defensive lineman Cory Redding. Others said “no” but the ones I listed are the ones who said “yes” by the last Saturday in July of 2014, when I got in my car and headed north. The next 12 days produced many of the moments I mentioned above, in the first paragraph. Moments like: driving into downtown Detroit and eventually all the way up 8-Mile Road, all the while listening to Eminem; playing golf in Chicago with my buddy Sean DelBacarro and his dad; making friends and having drinks with the person who checked me into my hotel in Mankato, Minnesota; looking out of my car window at the beautiful West Virginia state capitol (oh yeah, I ended up going to West Virginia too, more on that later); and turning a corner in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and discovering there was a massive Manchester United versus Real Madrid soccer match that sold out Michigan Stadium that day.

I haven’t made it back to Mankato, Minnesota, but it’s on my to-do list. That’s where I arrived after the first two days of driving because that’s where the Vikings were holding training camp. I checked into the hotel and asked the friendly person at the desk, whose name was Lindsey, where I should have dinner. She told me to go unpack and she would have some recommendations when I was on my way out. That’s what I did and we chatted for a few minutes before I headed for a local Italian place. When I returned to the hotel, she was still at the desk and it was a slow evening, so we must have talked for most of an hour.

The next day, after I interviewed Adrian Peterson, I went to a coffee shop that Lindsey recommended. I wanted coffee and I needed to record the interview and send some emails. One of the emails I sent went to the New Orleans Saints. Having had a great interview with Peterson, I was feeling momentum, so I inquired about speaking with Drew Brees. Within an hour, the Saints called and said Brees agreed to the interview. That meant that after I interviewed Stafford the following Friday in Detroit, I would then drive across Ohio to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, where the Saints were holding camp. But it would be worth it.

Soon after I received the call from the Saints, Lindsey came by the coffee shop to hang out for a bit. We made plans to drink beer at a bar near the hotel called the Loose Moose. We ended up talking and playing pool until pretty late. That was a good day.

And that’s why, when I’m at the gym on a run-of-the-mill Wednesday these days, and certain songs come through my headphones, I wish I was still driving around the Midwest running down the interviews that formed The Republic of Football.

Conine is a freelance sports
journalist who has written for the Sports Xchange, Reuters, and, among others. He has been covering Texas high school and college football since the late 1990s. He lives in Waco, Texas.


  September 5 – 19, 2016
Check out the other great blogs on the tour! 

Guest Post 1
Author Interview 1
Kara The Redhead
Reading By Moonlight
Guest Post 2
Author Interview 2
Country Girl Bookaholic
Guest Post 3



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