Nitschke: The Ray Nitschke Story (The Ice Bowl: The Cold Truth About Football’s Most Unforgettable Game)

Ray Nitschke was a rough and tough middle linebacker for the best team of the 1960s, the Green Bay Packers. Gruver, who wrote winningly on the Packers’ glory years in The Ice Bowl, has done a nice job of blending familiar material about Nitschke with new interviews with Ray’s teammates and contemporaries to create a compelling, coherent, and detailed portrait of a complex individual. Readers meet not only a Hall of Fame football player but also someone who underwent one of the most amazing life transformations imaginable, from an alcoholic, belligerent wild man to a sober, steady husband and father. Nitschke was a favorite for the way he played and for his habit of consistently making himself cheerfully available to fans. His entertaining autobiography, Mean on Sunday, was originally published in 1973, but this is the first biography of this legendary player. Recommended for all football collections. John Maxymuk, Rutgers Univ. Lib., Camden, NJ
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Hardcover: 264 pages
Publisher: Taylor Trade Publishing; 1 edition
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0878332715
ISBN-13: 978-0878332717
Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
Shipping Weight: 1 pounds

Nitschke: The Ray Nitschke Story

The Ice Bowl: The Cold Truth About Football’s Most Unforgettable Game

“A hundred misconceptions about the Ice Bowl have been answered. This book captures the essence of Lombardis finest hour.” — Bob McGinn, Packers beat, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“An insightful, bone-chilling replay of pro football’s greatest game.” — Gordon Forbes, pro football editor, USA Today



The Ice Bowl: The Cold Truth About Football’s Most Unforgettable Game

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 23rd, 2012 at 1:42 am and is filed under Biographies & Memoirs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

11 Responses to “Nitschke: The Ray Nitschke Story (The Ice Bowl: The Cold Truth About Football’s Most Unforgettable Game)”

  1. Jerry Turner Says:

    This book is a tremendous recap of The Ice Bowl and the game’s participants. Tons of interviews, plenty of graphics and photos, and a great sportwriter to pull it all together. It’s obvious Gruver loves the subject matter. As a lifelong Packers fan, I found this to be a fantastic book — and so did my Dad, another lifelong Packers fan. Highly recommended!

  2. Kimberly Edwards Says:

    Ray Nitschke is a symbol of a football era that has passed. He played the game for enjoyment not for money. Unlike current players, he was grateful to the fans and never passes up an autograph seeker. Truly, there will never be another Ray Nitschke.

    Edward Gruver began putting this biography together before Nitschke’s death. Much of the information was gained in interviews with Nitschke. Because many of the stories are in his own words, it lends authenticity to the story. Gruver interviewed teammates and opponents to get their perspective of Nitschke. The result is the best rounded biography of the man who is arguably the best middle linebacker in NFL history.

    Aside from the stories of his playing days, the book also looks at Ray Nitschke the man. He lived through a rough childhood to become an unlikely recipient of a scholarship to Illinois. Although he dreamed of playing for the Bears, he made Green Bay his home only a few seasons after he was drafted. After getting married, Nitschke changed from a rough bar room brawler to a family man. His nasty on-field persona was left on the field. Nitschke was involved in numuerous charities. However, his family came first.

    Nitschke is an easy read, that is historically accurate and well written. My one objection to the book is my feeling that some of the stories could have been expanded up further. Nevertheless, this is an excellent read for Packer fans.

  3. Jim Bradley Says:

    This book about the 1967 Ice Bowl is an excellent read worth at least 4 stars. to read about what the two coaches Landry and Lambardi were thinking before during and after the game was pescious.

  4. Casey Byshop Says:

    A wonderful book. Ed Gruver recaps this game with thirty years of perspective, and he does it right. It’s well written, with comprehensive background information and game detail. The appendix has all the pertinent statistics you could want, including a play-by-play compilation.

    Gruver is not biased toward the Packers. He pays richly deserved respect to the Cowboy players and coaches. The Cowboys were a “warm weather” team that might have been expected to fold their tent when faced with the severe cold, but, like the Packers, they gave everything they had on that day.

    I don’t see much to criticize in this book. Maybe Phil Bengtson’s family would like to have seen his name spelled correctly. I’d prefer to see more discussion of the historical significance of the game, but Gruver probably thinks of himself as a reporter and not as a historian.

    Not being bound by such modesty, I’ll do it for him.

    The greatest games in modern NFL history are:

    (5) 1998 Bronco-Packer Super Bowl. (4) 1982 49er-Cowboy NFC Title Game. (3) 1969 Jet-Colt Super Bowl. (2) 1958 Giant-Colt NFL Title Game. (1) The Ice Bowl.

    An epic game should have three qualities: it should effectively decide a championship, it should be historically significant (usually by signifying a changing of the guard or a change in the way the game is played), and the game action should be unforgettable. The Ice Bowl combines these qualities better than any other game.

    It marked an end to the dominance of the “old” NFL and provided a glimpse of the complex offensive and defensive schemes to come. It matched two of the five greatest coaches in NFL history. No game was more dramatic; the cold weather and frozen field gave it a sense of primeval struggle. I feel that the title “Greatest Game Ever” as applied to the ’58 Championship Game has been inflated by the well-known power of eastern media. The Ice Bowl deserves that title.

  5. Frank Denim Says:

    My uncle took me to the Dec 31,1967 NFL Championship game between the Cowboys and Packers, better known as the ice bowl. I was a high school senior. I have always remembered that it was -13 degrees with a 20 mph wind blowing into the open north end of the stadium. It wasn’t until I read this book that I realized the wind chill by the end of the game was -56 degrees. Now I live in Texas where 100 degree summer days are the norm. On hot days I reread the book and watch the video. The Texas heat doesn’t seem so bad.

  6. Joshua Shapiro Says:

    A wonderful book. Ed Gruver recaps this game with thirty years of perspective, and he does it right. It’s well written, with comprehensive background information and game detail. The appendix has all the pertinent statistics you could want, including a play-by-play compilation.

    Gruver is not biased toward the Packers. He pays richly deserved respect to the Cowboy players and coaches. The Cowboys were a “warm weather” team that might have been expected to fold their tent when faced with the severe cold, but, like the Packers, they gave everything they had on that day.

    I don’t see much to criticize in this book. Maybe Phil Bengtson’s family would like to have seen his name spelled correctly. I’d prefer to see more discussion of the historical significance of the game, but Gruver probably thinks of himself as a reporter and not as a historian.

    Not being bound by such modesty, I’ll do it for him.

    The greatest games in modern NFL history are:

    (5) 1998 Bronco-Packer Super Bowl. (4) 1982 49er-Cowboy NFC Title Game. (3) 1969 Jet-Colt Super Bowl. (2) 1958 Giant-Colt NFL Title Game. (1) The Ice Bowl.

    An epic game should have three qualities: it should effectively decide a championship, it should be historically significant (usually by signifying a changing of the guard or a change in the way the game is played), and the game action should be unforgettable. The Ice Bowl combines these qualities better than any other game.

    It marked an end to the dominance of the “old” NFL and provided a glimpse of the complex offensive and defensive schemes to come. It matched two of the five greatest coaches in NFL history. No game was more dramatic; the cold weather and frozen field gave it a sense of primeval struggle. I feel that the title “Greatest Game Ever” as applied to the ’58 Championship Game has been inflated by the well-known power of eastern media. The Ice Bowl deserves that title.

  7. Kim Beardsmore Says:

    THIS BOOK IS TRULY A GREAT READ. THE INTERVIEWS, PHOTOGRAPHS, AND RESEARCH IS REALLY EXCELLENT. THIS IS BOOK REALLY BRINGS BACK SOME MEMORIES. I WAS ACTUALLY COLD JUST THINKING ABOUT THE HARSH CONDITIONS OF THAT DAY OF SURVIVAL. WELL DESCRIBED AND A GREAT WAY TO LEARN ABOUT THIS LEGENDARY GAME. HATS OFF TO MR GRUVER, AND ALL ASSOCIATED WITH THIS MASTERPIECE.

  8. Jeff Boo Says:

    If I am not mistaken, the playoff game between the Bengals and the Chargers was played in even colder conditions than the Ice Bowl. But that game was a blowout and neither team ever won a Superbowl.

    That said, the book seemed like a reasonably researched story of this game. The game coverage seems fairly good.

    But the incessant praise for anybody who had anything to do with this ballgame, from writers, TV directors (the CBS director could not hold NBC’s Harry Coyle’s headset), players, coaches, all got irritating quite quickly.

    Yes, the people are given the once-over, but their stories sound like they came right out of a press guide. Many interesting people were involved in that game, Gruver made them all sound alike.

    If Gruver says that the game was such a landmark, he did little to say why. A good foreward and epilogue is needed desparately. Gruver makes no reference to this being the next-to-last-game of the Packer dynasty. The team collapsed the following year, the result of Lombardi’s retirement from coaching and him not developing younger players.

    Nor did the Cowboys return to the NFC championship until 3 years later.

    The book could have been so much better.

  9. Alan Summers Says:

    Nitschke is the first biography of accomplished professional football player Ray Nitschke (1936-1998), who won the Green Bay Packers five NFL titles and the first two Super Bowls. Constructed from thorough research and dozens of interviews by biographer Edward Gruver, Nischke is the impressive portrait of a courageous man who lost both his parents at age 13, played a legendary championship “Ice Bowl” game in sub-zero weather, was inducted into the Pro Football hall of fame in 1978, and earned lasting memorials and tributes after his unfortunate death from a heart attack. Nitschke provides the reader with an inspiring account of the life of a dedicated game player and is “must” reading for Packer fans in general, and those who remember Ray Nitschke’s performances on the field in particular.

  10. Kathleen Mary Says:

    The year 1997 marked the thirtieth anniversary of the 1967 NFL Championship game between the Packers and the Cowboys. Two book were published around that time. One was by Mike Shropshire and the other was by Ed Gruver. Of the two books, Gruver’s is superior. It looks briefly at the coaches, the organizations, the seasons, and then devotes the lion’s share of the book to the actual game. Especially helpful were the diagrams of key plays that occurred during the game. The book devotes a chapter to each quarter. In addition to the players and coaches, the author looks at the game from sportscasters and referees. The author also covers issues that Shropshire ignored. For example: was Jerry Kramer offsides on the winning TD and did Donny Anderson score on the previous play. The author also does a good job on covering the discussion of possible plays that could be called on the final play. The Shropshire book was not bad, but this one wins hands down.

  11. Wally Bock Says:

    Any football fan, and especially Packers fans, will appreciate the factual re-creation of the “Ice Bowl.” What complications the weather bestowed upon the ’67 NFC Championship Game were memorable enough, but the ending, the climactic finale, as recalled by Gruver, is the defining touch rendering this game as “the greatest ever.” An NFL collector’s item. An absolute read!

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