If necessity has been the mother of invention throughout the history of professional football, it could also be said that desperation is the father. Rare are the football innovations that have occurred without an owner, general manager, coach, or player up against the wall and reaching for a way to succeed anyway. In this meticulously researched, lively book, Bleacher Report lead NFL scout Doug Farrar traces the schematic history of the pro game through these “if this/then that” moments—paradigm shifts in the game from 1920 through the present. More than just a book about schemes and strategies, The Genius of Desperation: The Schematic Innovations that Made the Modern NFL also tells the stories of the game’s most prominent innovators, the adversities they endured, and the ways in which they learned to exceed their own expectations on the path to true greatness. Everyone from George Halas to Greasy Neale, Paul Brown to Sid Gillman, Bill Walsh to Chip Kelly is featured, as well as many more.
About the Author
Doug Farrar is a Seattle-based journalist who has written about football for Bleacher Report, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo! Sports, ESPN, Football Outsiders, The Washington Post, and other outlets during the last 15 years. This is his first book.
After playing seven years in the NFL and spending more than a decade in NFL front offices, Louis Riddick works as an NFL analyst for ESPN. He resides in Bristol, Connecticut.
“As someone who knows Paul Zimmerman well, I can tell you Dr. Z would love this book. Doug Farrar has written about this great game like he was in the gameplan sessions with Bill Walsh and Joe Gibbs. Savor this book. It's a great contribution to the comprehension of a deep, deep game.” —Peter King, NBC Sports
“The best book ever written about the NFL’s on-field evolution. If you’re a football geek, this book is for you. If you’re a fan of good writing and journalism, this book is also for you.” —Mike Freeman, Bleacher Report
"An exceptional deep dive into what makes football, football." —Trey Wingo, ESPN
“I have never read a sports book that does such a seamless job of synthesizing statistics and the personalities who bring the numbers to life. In a series of vignettes that span NFL history, Farrar shows how desperation is the true mother of invention.” —Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation
“Doug Farrar is my favorite NFL writer. I always look forward to reading Doug’s work because of his dedication as well as the massive amount of research he conducts for all of his projects. His love for football and his proclivity for preparation have never been more evident than in The Genius of Desperation, in which Doug explains the design of many of the great innovations in football tactics, as well as who created them, and when, where, and why.” —Tony Khan, Jacksonville Jaguars’ senior vice president of football administration and technology
“Comprehensive and compelling, thoughtful and thought-provoking, interesting and insightful. Irrespective of your level of knowledge and understanding of the game of football, you will benefit from and enjoy reading this book. Tremendous information, tremendously presented.” —Amy Trask, CBS Sports/former CEO of the Oakland Raiders
"If you love football—whether you have been in it your entire life or are a fan who appreciates the chess match of the game—you must read this book.” —Joe Banner, former Philadelphia Eagles president and Cleveland Browns CEO
“It’s often said the NFL is a “copycat” league. If a play works for one team, another tries it. But someone came up with that play in the first place, and this fascinating account tracks key innovations back to their sources. Farrar, the lead scout for Bleacher Report, finds a similarity among the innovators they were all desperate for something new. We learn, for example, that the modern passing game owes its existence to Sid Gilman, a coach in the upstart American Football League, which was struggling to survive. Gilman developed “timing” pass patterns in which a quarterback would throw to a spot with the expectation the receiver and the ball would arrive simultaneously, That’s the cornerstone of the modern NFL offense today. Defense changed forever with the arrival of New York Giant rookie linebacker Sam Huff in the late fifties. His talents were so special that the Giants needed a new scheme to showcase them; thus, the invention of the 4-3 defense, predicated on the physical and mental skills of the middle linebacker. An entertaining and deep dive into the evolution of the modern game.” —Booklist