Nearing 40, standing five feet eight, weighing in at 160 pounds, Mark St. Amant was most definitely not a football player. He had never played a single down of real football in his life and even in the sports he did play, his greatest skill seemed to be choking when the game was on the line. So why on earth did he suddenly become, of all things, a semi-pro football kicker?
Fantasy football writer and self-described poster child for suburban-raised white boy Mark St. Amant tells the unlikely story of how he ditched his television and laptop to join an inner-city football squad the mostly African-American Boston Panthers, one of more than 600 semi-pro teams around the country. With warmth, insight, and his trademark offbeat, self-deprecating humor, Mark recounts the strides he made on and off the field and reveals the powerful bonds that developed among teammates young and not-so-young, struggling and successful, black, white, and Hispanic, all clinging tightly to their dreams and playing the game they love.
From couch potato to field goal kicker, Mark lived out a real-life football fantasy, discovering true teamwork, staring his lifelong fear of athletic failure in the face, witnessing testosterone-fueled hilarity both on and off the field, and achieving gridiron glory in ways he d never imagined.
At age 37, St. Amant (Committed: Confessions of a Fantasy Football Junkie) joined a football team the Boston Panthers of the EFL, a semipro league based in southern New England and narrates that first season with the team. It was a stiff test for a man who hadn't engaged in a minute of serious athletics since college; besides being old and out of shape, Amant played an outcast position, kicker, and was a ghost-white face on a black team drawn from the toughest Boston neighborhoods. Over the Panthers season, Amant tries to gain the respect of his teammates and comes face-to-face with his lifelong fear of choking during the big game. In contrast to the glamour of the NFL, semipro football takes place in obscurity on stony fields, the bleachers empty and the uniforms mismatched. The players are an equally heterogeneous lot, too small or too slow to have had a shot at the pros or kept out by injuries, bad decisions or psychological issues. At times, Amant relies too much on humor, but he gives good insight into the makeup of his fellow athletes as well as into his own motivations.