Breaker Boys by David Fleming

 In this book, David Fleming has done what was believed to be impossible – outdone the internet.

The story of the Pottsville Maroons – in 1925, the greatest football team on the planet – has been one of heartbreak for the small mining town of Pottsville since their NFL Championship was taken from them by the very league that they helped give credibility to.

You might know David Fleming from some of his excellent writing online, and he turned his attention to this story much like I did when it came up during a game some years back.

The Maroons had long been forgotten outside of Pottsville until they were mentioned on a Monday Night Football broadcast by John Madden and Al Michaels, and since then, there has been a huge number of people scouring the internet for information.

Unfortunately there was only so much information online about one of the great injustices of NFL history, and David Fleming has spent several years drawing from every possible source, including family members of the of the Pottsville Maroons players, original archived news articles, Hall of Fame archives, and the memoirs of one of the Maroons’ great patrons: Joe Zlacko, the man who supplied the uniforms to the 1925 team.

For any fan of the saga, this book serves as the definitive tale, the real history of the 1925 team, the success it had on the field, and the injustice that has denied the team, its players, and the city of Pottsville their place in the annals of NFL History. For any football fan not familiar with the story of the Pottsville Maroons, the book will provide an insight into one of the most dominant sides ever to set foot on the gridiron.

Beginning before the 1925 season, fresh off the back of a dominant year in the Anthracite League, Fleming brings the reader through the building of the team itself, the collection of talent, the revolutionary ideas that the Maroons first employed that modern football fans take for granted, right the way up to the crowning of the Maroons as World Champions, and the controversy that forever robbed them of that honour. He manages what no other account of the controversy has previously – to provide a balanced and factually accurate tale of the dispute, yet still come to the conclusion that the city of Pottsville and the team of 1925 have been undeniably harshly treated by the NFL.

This is a conflict that has been raging between Pottsville and the NFL for more than 80 years, and much though David Fleming would like it to, this book is unlikely to resolve anything in favour of the Maroons as far as the NFL is concerned, but what the book is capable of doing is educating an entirely new generation of football fans about what was once termed ‘the perfect football machine’.

A team that beat the Notre Dame side that was believed to be invincible

A team Red Grange once called “the most ferocious and most respected players I ever faced in football”. Now the players are all gone, the coach, the owner, and the championship, but thanks to David Fleming, the memory, and the glory of the 1925 Pottsville Maroons can live on, in the minds of a fresh generation of football fans. Whether they choose to recognise it or not, the NFL owes a great deal to this team of pioneers, and Breaker Boys does a wonderful job of showing exactly how much.

One thought on “Breaker Boys by David Fleming

  1. Pingback: Book Reviews | SplitCoverage

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