This little book called First and Goal, what football taught me about never giving up, Published by Harvest; it is written by former Wisconsin Badger/NFL Tight End Jake Byrne. Just a side note, his mother is phenomenal writer Holly Michael, author of Broken Lines, also published by Harvest. I was honored to get a free copy to write a book review.
The book it’s self is a daily devotional book for athletes who have Type 1 Diabetes. Diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 14 Jake was a hulking 6’ 5” 240-pound football player. I won’t tell you his diagnoses story, but he relates it to football and life in the most gripping manner.
Each page or two contains an antidote relating to athletics, life, and Type 1 Diabetes. The stories tie the struggle with diabetes to one’s walk with God. The chapter antidote are tied into each aspect of football: blitzes, fumble, injured reserve, clipping, draft choice, loose ball, gap, Mike Backers (not a person, but a middle linebacker) holding, playoff game. There’s 170 short chapters/antidotes, the last one written by his mother.
The book is written in a clean, simple prose. You won’t run into many non-football terms that are hard to understand. It is straight forward, mixing football experiences with Christian devotional thought. All bible references are taken from the New American Standard Bible, which draw extra marks from me.
I’ve read devotionals before, example, My Utmost for My Highest and Streams in the Desert and first and goal compares favorably. You might think that is a bold statement, but let me explain. Sometimes simplicity and relatability are just the magic a young athlete might need. I remember being in high school, it was hard. This book could bring balance and help in a young person’s life, especially if they are dealing with Type 1 Diabetes. Let us not forget, Type 1 Diabetes in addition to the struggles of a young person is hard. This book can bring a calming balance to the chaotic time.
If you have a Type 1 Football player, buy this book for them. However, this book is not just for Type 1 Diabetic, Football players or athletes, it is a great fit for anyone. I give this book the highest of marks. It is, however, a devotional, so it is limited in some ways. You won’t magically get your blood sugar numbers under control, but it could help your attitude.
Jake played football at a very high level. He made it to the NFL for a couple of years. That is a great accomplishment. Never once did he let Type 1 get in his way. Type 1 has played a huge role in his life. Jake helps mentor young athletes with Type 1 Diabetes. You can check out his blog at Typewon.net and learn more about his work post football.