Tight End Days are coming...
"The Blood and Guts" is out Oct. 18 and we'd love it if you pre-ordered. As we close in, expect a ton of tight end coverage right here at Go Long. Details inside.
Raw competitiveness still courses through these players’ veins. It’s striking, and it doesn’t matter which era they played in.
Each tight end cannot help but look and sound like a man who would still love to lower a shoulder and run a fool over.
At a bar in Miami Beach, a conversation with Jeremy Shockey gets physical. The rugged ex-Giant cannot merely vocalize all of his epic tales from the field. He smacks your shoulder and sticks an index finger in your chest and pops off his chair to illustrate. This wild child from “The U” is still as wild as you can imagine.
Down in Austin, Tony Gonzalez details his remarkable rise… right up to the point he nearly cold-cocked one of his coaches in the locker room. Seriously.
Inside his home, Ben Coates struggles to walk around. A lifetime of conducting himself as more of a conquistador downfield took a debilitating toll. Even then, it’s clear Coates takes immense pride in the fact that he blocked Bruce Smith and Reggie White 1 on 1. He also pokes fun at the retirees who feel the need to cry their way into the Hall of Fame. Don’t expect one tear from this forgotten badass.
Even the old-timers — the men who created the modern tight end position — still live with such passion. In St. Louis, Jackie Smith re-enacts how he got open down the field right in the middle of the bar… at the ripe age of 82. And down at his golf course, Mike Ditka was blunt. Maybe tight ends today are more entertaining, more athletic. But he locks in eye contact to drive home one point: They weren’t nearly as tough.
This spirit is why we love pro football. “The Blood and Guts” is a collection of 15 longform features on the 15 tight ends who not only saved the sport, but also have us all looking in the mirror to examine our own lives. I cannot wait for folks to read all of their wild stories and words of wisdom. You can still pre-order “The Blood and Guts: How Tight Ends Save Football,” via Twelve Books, at 30% off and receive a signed bookplate. This offer runs through Oct. 11, and the book officially hits the shelves Oct. 18.
Thank you all again.
Up to this release date, we’ll be celebrating the Great American Tight End right here at Go Long with “Tight End Days.”
Here’s what you can expect these next two weeks …
“Iowa Made,” the Dallas Clark chapter excerpt. When he was a high school senior, his mother died in his arms. That trauma set the course for one of the most inspiring rises in the position’s history. These were some emotional conversations. (It was also fun chatting with Peyton Manning for this.)
Lee Smith Profile. He’s the throwback who relished life in the trenches at tight end this generation. Smith’s upbringing was eerily similar to that of Mike Ditka, too. It’s no coincidence this ex-Bill/Raider/Falcon spent 11 years bashing defensive linemen.
T.J. Hockenson. Watch his eight-catch, 179-yard, two-touchdown explosion vs. Seattle last weekend? Like the Iowans before him, Hockenson is rare. I’ll chat with one of the greats at the position today for a story.
Q&As with Heath Miller and Frank Wycheck. One kept tradition alive in Pittsburgh, the other was behind one of the wildest plays in NFL history. (Wycheck sends nothing but love to the Bills fans here.)
Columns. So, who is the greatest tight end of all-time. We’ll explore all angles. (We want your input, too!)
Zoom Happy Hour. I’ll chat with subscribers virtually about all things “Blood and Guts” on Oct. 17 at 6 p.m., the night before the book’s release. Be on the lookout for that link soon.
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If you prefer, you can also pre-order right at Amazon. “The Blood and Guts” will also be available in Kindle and Audible form. Don’t worry. You won’t have to hear my voice any more than you already do. Our narrator, Alan Carson, has the absolute perfect voice for the content of this book.
Thanks to everyone who’s had a chance to read and review. Here’s what folks are saying about “Blood and Guts” so far…
“This is an exceptional look at one of football’s most fascinating and overlooked positions, reported and told richly by one of our finest pro football writers. With insight and humanity, Tyler Dunne profiles the game’s great tight ends while reflecting on their place in the evolution of their position.”
―Dan Pompei, senior writer for The Athletic
“Football is complicated, as you know. We need enthusiastic wordsmiths who love the game to figure it out, and to advance theories about the real meaning of it. This is what Tyler Dunne does in THE BLOOD AND GUTS. In these pages—very early, in fact—you’ll learn why the tight end position is so crucial to understanding everything about football, and you’ll see why the ethos of men like Mike Ditka was so important to the game, and to the position. As Dunne writes, ‘The tight end is the sport itself distilled to one position.’ He's right.”
―Peter King, NBC Sports
"From the grit and power of Iron Mike Ditka to the athleticism of Tony Gonzalez and the combination of both with Rob Gronkowsk - and so many others in between - Tyler Dunne brings us inside the souls of these men who helped transform the game of football. Ditka and John Mackey began the tight end revolution and Gonzalez, George Kittle, Gronk and others refined it, elevating the position to an art form and showing how teams could gain a huge advantage. Dunne’s revealing portraits of these men provide terrific insight into a fearlessness and relentlessness that make them some of the toughest and most interesting players in the game. He earns their trust, and they respond by sharing details of their lives that enrich the reader in a well-written and painstakingly reported book."
―Bob Glauber, co-author of The Forgotten First and author of Guts and Genius
“Just like every great quarterback needs a great tight end, every fan of the game needs this book! Stories that span the history of the game and Tyler does an incredible job bringing it to life.”
―Dallas Clark, Former Colts TE
“It’s easy to watch and appreciate a Gronk or George Kittle dominate a game, blocking and receiving. It’s not easy to step back and say, how did we get here at this all-important position? That’s what Ty does. An exhaustive, illuminating, fascinating deep dive is the result. By the time you finish, you’ll know more about the NFL’s best and craziest dudes than you ever could ask for. A great read.”
―Ian Rapoport, NFL Network’s Insider
"Tyler ranks among the best storytellers about society’s best sport, but I’m still blown away by just how many hilarious…and depressing… and just plain cool tales about tight-end legends he’s put together here. From Sharpe to Shockey and Ghost to Gronk, from Jackie Smith’s drop to Red Right 88, from their early years to their most iconic plays, from the wild late nights to the cafeteria fights…all are woven together into one big, captivating yarn about football’s plus-sized passcatchers. I hate when people say stuff like this, but I’m gonna say it, anyway: If you love football, there’s zero chance you won’t love this book. The only question left: Which position is Dunne gonna do next?!"
―Dave Dameshek, Host of the Minus Three Podcast