Books

Star-Ledger columnist Jerry Izenberg’s book on Giants coming back into print

The New York Giants classic blue uniform of the ’80s and ’90s era isn’t the only thing coming back for Giants fans this season.

Jerry Izenberg’s best-selling insider football book, “No Medals For Trying,” is being re-released as an e-book by Open Road Media, complete with a new foreword by Izenberg, on Aug. 2, and will be available at most major bookstores, including Amazon (http://amzn.to/3vtSO4L) and Barnes & Noble (http://bit.ly/3cSXFpN).

“I never thought this book would happen. I already had access to all the players but now, to do it, I needed access from Bill Parcells to tape all the coaches meetings,” Izenberg said. “I needed [Giants coach] Bill Parcells to give his wife permission to discuss the pressure of being a coach’s wife. And, most of all, I needed Parcells. I felt I had a better chance if I were asking him for a copy of the Giants’ playbook. So we sat in his office just before he left for training camp.”

“Is that all you want from me?” Parcells asked. He in silence for what seemed an eternity and then said: “All right. Try not to get in the way.”

“I’m sure there were times that I did,” Izenberg said. “But it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Izenberg’s book opens in the final minutes of Nov. 27, 1989 — moments after the Giants lost a heartbreaker to the San Francisco 49ers, 34-14, at Candlestick Park.

After the crucial game, televised to the country on Monday Night Football, Parcells had to relive the loss by reading the injury report as the team headed back to New Jersey on a charter flight while beginning to plan for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles, led by coach Buddy Ryan and quarterback Randall Cunningham.

The Giants were a mess: Quarterback Phil Simms had re-injured his ankle; nose tackle Erik Howard had lower-back spasms; wide receiver Lionel Manuel, a twisted knee; tackle Jumbo Elliott, a swollen ankle; running back Dave Meggett, a mild concussion.

And then the biggest concern — Lawrence Taylor, the Giants’ indestructable linebacker, had gone down with an ankle injury. He boarded the charter plane on crutches.

Izenberg was on the Giants’ charter flight, too. For the entire week, he attended, and chronicled every team meeting, every coaching session, and every chalk talk as the Giants prepared for what turned out to be their biggest game of the 1989 season.

The unfettered access takes the reader into a world never seen by football fans. You’ll feel the pressure mount as Parcells and his staff, which includes, defensive and offensive coordinators Bill Belichick and Ron Erhardt, and their assistants Tom Coughlin, Romeo Crennel, Al Groh, Ray Handley, Fred Hoaglin, Lamar Leachman, Johnny Parker, Mike Pope, and Mike Sweatman work overtime trying to devise a plan to stop the Eagles.

Now living in Henderson, Nev., with his wife Aileen, Izenberg is still producing topical sports columns and social commentary as columnist emeritus at The Star-Ledger.

Milestones are nothing new for this Newark native. He is one of only two daily newspaper columnists to have covered the first 53 Super Bowls, not to mention 54 consecutive Kentucky Derby races and the last five Triple Crown-winning horses. No one covered more of Muhammad Ali’s fights than he, dating back to the 1960 Olympics.

The recipient of the Red Smith Award, which is bestowed annually by the Associated Press Sports Editors to a writer or editor who has made major contributions to sports journalism, Izenberg is a five-time winner of the New Jersey Sportswriter of the Year Award. He is an inductee in 17 Halls of Fame, including the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame, the International Boxing Hall of Fame, and the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

Izenberg has been inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame, the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame, the New Jersey Literary Hall of Fame, the Rutgers-Newark Athletic Hall of Fame, and the Rutgers Hall of Fame of Distinguished Alumni.

Best-selling books he has authored include: “Once There Were Giants: The Golden Age of Heavyweight Boxing” and “Rozelle: A Biography.” He released his first novel, the well-received “After the Fire: Love and Hate in the Ashes of 1967,” in 2020, at age 90.

Izenberg founded Newark Project Pride, which promoted an annual college football game during its 29 years and raised the funds to send 1,100 local kids to college.

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