There's tons of information on the Super Bowl. Hell, look no further than the week-long circus in Miami for proof that cataloging the biggest annual football game is pretty important. But what Bob McGinn, a 26-year veteran of the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel, has done is create something entirely different.
Nearly devoid of pictures, The Ultimate Super Bowl Book is 350 pages of statistical insights, exclusive interviews (see below: Bob got four hours with Bill Belichick) and Super Bowl analysis. FanHouse caught up with Bob on Radio Row Wednesday to talk about the book, the future of the Packers and the changing nature of fandom.
| Adam Schefter | Matthew Berry | Darren Rovell
| Chris Mortensen | Vincent Jackson | Bob McGinn
| OCNN's Jake and Amir
Will Brinson: Alright, Bob, thanks much for talking with FanHouse here on Radio Row!
Bob McGinn: Sure thing, Will, no problem.
WB: So, you just came out with a little something new: The Ultimate Super Bowl Book. What's the impetus for writing this?
BM: Well, almost all Super Bowl books are coffee table books -- beautiful books, no doubt about it. But the text is a little bit thin ... [WB: Or dry ...] Or superficial. The elements of this Super Bowl book is very few photos. This is hardcore football analysis.
WB: But that's what the fans like!
BM: I believe millions of people out are interested in how the left tackle played, or know what Cover-2 or a 3-technique or a 7-technique is, and that's what that book ... it's kind of for that audience. It's the most important game of the year. The book has nothing to do with hype or glitz or none of that stuff. It funnels in on the game and it's kind of an oral history of the game and it is ... the central question I asked in all these long stories is, "Why this game was won?"
WB: How do you factor in your personal experiences with the Packers and living in Green Bay for this? (And is there any bias towards those teams?)
BM: Ha, I'm just a neutral observer. But I've been a beat writer for 26 years covering the Packers and Green Bay's been in four of the 43, you know, and I've got to admit, the one's I covered, 31 and 32, I know a lot of about those games ...
WB: And a lot about those teams too ...
BM: Yeah, definitely. But with every game I was able to interview so many people about the game that each one was really fascinating.
WB: Is there any one Super Bowl that stands out to you ... or to ask you to really paint a tiny dot with a giant brush, does any one theme, or person or whatever pop?
BM: I interviewed about 150 people for this book over the years, and guys gave me so much time. After I'd look at tape -- sometimes 8-10 hours -- and could ask informed questions, well, people tend to open up a little more once you've done your research. Maybe one of the great interviews was Bill Belichick. He's never done this with anybody, and he told me that and may never do it again ... He gave me almost four hours.
WB: Holy what!
BM: Yeah, he talked about all his games both as an assistant and as a head coach. It was just an education for me -- he got into all his game plans, how people played ... I really mean it when I say the book is like no other.
WB: Wow, you know, I think that's fascinating because I believe we're in an evolving age of both journalism and fandom, where people are becoming more and more interested in this hardcore type of stuff -- do you think that's case, where fans are getting smarter?
BM: Will, that's what I believe. That's the way I cover the team, the way we cover it in Green Bay. That's a one-sport town -- and really almost a one-sport state. So we think they are really knowledgeable and they are into how guys really played. Who blew coverages? Who broke down in protection? Sacks aren't always on the offensive line -- you know, I use a stopwatch on every sack of Aaron Rodgers to see how many seconds he had it before he got sacked. I think there are millions of people in every market who want to know this stuff, as you're suggesting, and that's what this book is. It's the most important game of the year, but it's under-reported! So in the prism of time, that's what I tried to bring to it.
WB: [Trying not to laugh] Is it weird to you that, right now, I'm interviewing you, because you are the media? Is this too meta?
BM: [Laughing] Yeah! Very strange. All I usually do is ask questions, I never answer them, Will!
WB: Aaron Rodgers is a fantastic quarterback, no question -- is he the best quarterback of the new crop? Or where do you think he ranks among guys like Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Schaub, etc? Or overall?
BM: High. I think he's top-12. He's never won a playoff game, so first things first. Last year he was 6-10 and I was on him for that and now he's 11-5 but he loses the first round playoff game. I don't care about his passer rating, he didn't play that well -- he really outplayed by Kurt Warner and it hurt the team ...
WB: Especially in the first half ...
BM: No doubt, and then at the end, when he held the ball on the sack and it led to the winning play. But with Rodgers, I think they have a tremendous future. They had the youngest team in the league the last four years -- I think they could be in this game next year. I really do.
WB: Yeah, I had them squaring off against the Chargers here this year.
BM: I picked them to go to the Super Bowl against Pittsburgh, so we were thinking kind of similar things ... probably just a year ahead of time.
WB: Alright, Bob, well, thanks again for talking to FanHouse.
BM: Thanks, Will.