Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Take your eye off the ball

NFL Notes

Pat Kirwan has a unique approach to watching football: Take your eye off the ball.

That's also the title of his book, which now has a second edition that includes a companion DVD and has forewords by Bill Cowher and Pete Carroll.

A former personnel director with the Jets, Kirwan has spent nearly 30 years in the football business as a coach and administrator on every level from high school to the NFL. He works behind the scenes for CBS on its Sunday telecasts and co-hosts a show called ``Moving The Chains'' on SiriusXM NFL Radio with former defensive lineman Tim Ryan.

The genesis for the book came from that show. It's hardly a book for just the die-hards, although Kirwan had them mainly in mind when he wrote it with co-author David Seigerman.

```Moving The Chains' became the laboratory for it,'' Kirwan said. ``Once I decided to do a book, it was to do it for those fans and to also pay attention to the new fan who says he learns by watching the game, but wants to learn more.

``They tell us, `Don't dumb it down, give me a shot to learn it.' Take the average guy watching who wants all the terminology and technical (information), who wants to go from what he saw and heard in pregame shows and from the analysts to get to a place where he could watch the game and break it down himself.''

The book offers an insider's perspective of what happens on the field and why it happens. Some chapters have sub-heads such as Receivers Need to Be More Than Just Good Hands People'' andPressuring and Protecting the Quarterback is the Key to Success.''

We broke the book down in a tutorial visually, going through the Xs and Os, and the fans loved that stuff,'' he said.That is why the book has come around the second time.''

Kirwan also delves into the ins and outs of special teams, the front office, the draft and the game's future.

The feedback has been something like ``give us even more.''

``I think the knowledge (the fans) gain empowers them,'' Kirwan said.

So should NFL viewers really take their eyes off the ball?

Now, they are watching a game they never saw before,'' Kirwan said about fans who do just that.People who have seats in end zone and always want to be on the 50-yard line, I tell them I watch coaches' tape all the time from the end zone. That's where to watch. They just didn't know how to watch it. They began to understand the depth of the game after reading the book.''

TUCK THE AUTHOR: Another recently released book, but with a totally different focus, has been written by Giants defensive end Justin Tuck. It's a children's tome entitled ``Home-Field Advantage,'' illustrated by Leonardo Rodriguez.

Tuck is urging youngsters and their parents to embrace literacy, and his story of dealing with five sisters when he was growing up in Alabama is his first published book.

``Academic success starts with reading and literacy,'' Tuck said.

Tuck focuses on a haircut gone awry in the book. His intention is to make young readers laugh while also teaching them a family friendly lesson.

Tuck and his wife Lauran founded Tuck's R.U.S.H. to Literacy program, a charity committed to donating reading materials to children in the New York City and central Alabama areas.

HOMETOWN HEROES: The Pro Football Hall of Fame is honoring nine of its members with its ``Hometown Hall of Famers'' program.

First up as part of the program that eventually will pay tribute to every Hall of Famer - there currently are 267 of them - was Howie Long. He was presented a plaque on Wednesday in Charlestown, Mass.

Next on the schedule was Joe Namath on Saturday in Beaver Falls, Pa.

It is terrific,'' Namath said of the program that is sponsored by Allstate.I know the Hall of Fame has recognized the importance of the fans and the families that take part in the sport, and they really do pick up these communities.

``Speaking for our community of Beaver Falls, the Hall of Fame is so special. We talk about Hall of Fame people coming to our hometown, it heightens the excitement. Going to communities and sharing the sport's excitement with them is a wonderful thing.''

Other players being honored are Sonny Jurgensen in Wilmington, N.C.; the late Walter Payton, who will be represented by his family in Columbia, Miss.; the late George Halas, represented by his family, in Chicago; Roger Staubach in Cincinnati; Bart Starr in Montgomery, Ala.; Barry Sanders in Wichita, Kan.; and John Madden in Daly City, Calif.

Thirty Hall of Famers will be honored each year, with the next set of plaques to be presented in the spring.

This accomplishes our mission to get out to the public, promote the values of the game, and to reach out to the communities,'' said George Veras, president/CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprise, who is overseeing the project.The Hall of Famers are the best representatives of American sports. Not just by playing ability but in the way they have comported themselves when young kids are there. They are revered. They are iconic ... ambassadors of the sport. There are 267 of them out of 22,000 players in the sport most loved by America.''

Namath particularly likes the grass-roots element of the program and the memories of how he got started and the lessons he learned that it rekindles.

Football is hard, but life is hard,'' Namath said.I soon understood from growing up (in Beaver Falls) about the teachers and families here and the people that believe in the sport and learning the basics that the sport teaches us for every-day life. You've got to learn to do the hard things, things we don't want to do from time to time. You get convinced it is important we learn to do those things. I learned that from the people in Beaver Falls.''

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