The Opening Kickoff

For more information: Laurie Kenney, 203/458-4555,

Select media coverage: Excerpt: Sports Illustrated, Boston Globe, Excerpt: EsquireOnly a Game (NPR), Wall Street Journal

Lyons Opening“Painstakingly researched and colorfully written.”
—Library Journal

“An interesting demonstration of how athletics remains what it was well over 100 years ago: big business.”

“…absorbing from opening kickoff to final gun. The stories are filled with historical romance, yet are not rosy-eyed. It is fascinating to see how all the glories and corruptions of football were there from the beginning.”
—David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi

Lyons Press, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press, is proud to announce the July 29, 2014, release of THE OPENING KICKOFF: The Tumultuous Birth of a Football Nation, by Dave Revsine (978-0-7627-9177-4; $25.95 hardcover).

College football television viewers know Dave Revsine as an authority on the current state of the sport. What they don’t know is that, while not on the anchor desk, Revsine spent the last four years poring through microfilm and university archives, conducting original research on the game’s early days. What he learned about the critical period between 1890 and 1915 will surprise many fans and give all of us a deeper understanding of how football became America’s most popular—and controversial—sport.

It’s no secret that football today is haunted by the specter of life-threatening injuries and plagued by scandal, even among its most venerable personalities and institutions. At the college level, we often tie football’s tales of corruption and greed to its current popularity and revenue potential, assuming that those forces have tarnished what was once a pure game. That couldn’t be further from the truth. As Revsine puts it: “Any modern-day football fans yearning for a return to a simpler, halcyon time when the game was enjoyed by well-mannered and cultured Ivy Leaguers should quickly disabuse themselves of that notion. There was no such time.” The reality he discovered was a game described in 1905, not today, as “a social obsession—this boy-killing, man-mutilating, education-prostituting, gladiatorial sport.”

In The Opening Kickoff, Dave Revsine tells the riveting story of the formative period of American football. It was a time that saw the game’s meteoric rise, fueled by overflow crowds, breathless newspaper coverage, and newfound superstars—including one of the most thrilling and mysterious the sport has ever seen. But it was also a period racked by controversy in academics, recruiting, and physical brutality that, in combination, threatened football’s very existence. A vivid storyteller, Revsine brings it all to life in a captivating narrative.

Dave Revsine is the lead studio host for the Big Ten Network. Prior to joining BTN, he spent eleven years as an anchor and studio host at ESPN.  He is a frequent guest on numerous national sports talk shows as well as many local shows in the Midwest. He lives in Oak Park, Illinois. Follow him on Twitter @BTNDaveRevsine.

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