David Masciotra, author of "Working on a Dream: The Progressive Political Vision of Bruce Springsteen," provided the introduction for Gilbert's book, and recently released the introduction on his blog for ChicagoNow.
After the jump is an excerpt from his introduction, with a link to the full text.
Proverbs 29:18 warns readers that "where there is no vision, the people perish." It may seem dubious to begin a book about football with Biblical wisdom. The connection, however, between football and spirituality, philosophy, and identity is not murky. To both fans, and anyone with the semblance of an imagination, the battles waged, blood shed, victories won, dreams lost, and bones broken on the gridiron are the materials necessary for building a house of shelter from the world where virtues, such as courage, sacrifice, and fairness, along with a shared sense of purpose, are difficult to find.
Norman Mailer once compared the contest between God and the Devil to a football game, saying that "Two teams fight each other with skill and bestiality, each side laboring to win. Nonetheless, a whole set of laws also prevails. After players tackle a guy, they don't kick him in the head. I'm saying that in order to keep it flowing, God and the Devil have certain understandings with each other. What they are, I couldn't begin to say."
Seemingly, but unintentionally, picking up where Mailer left off, Catholic priest and acclaimed author Robert Barron explains that Biblical laws are comparable to rules of NFL football. Understanding them allows you to play the game--be it football or spirituality--but it doesn't mean that you will be any good at it. Proficiency requires perseverance, innovation, and, of course, vision. Those three qualities that are essential to the players on the football field and the coaches on the sidelines, are precisely what is missing from the larger game of American culture. Politicians, regardless of party or label, are incapable of even discussing, much less solving, big problems. Public education is in a state of dysfunction and disrepair, and the economy is at a low point.