The Code: Football’s Unwritten Rules and Its Ignore-at-Your-Own-Risk Code of Honor

By Ross Bernstein

Forewords by: Ahmad Rashad, Jerome Bettis & Mike Ditka

Pages: 246 (Hardcover)

Price: $22.95


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About The Book

Football is, and always has been, a sport steeped in a culture of violence, intimidation and brutality. Players have learned, however, to navigate through its mazes and labyrinths of physical contact by adhering to an honor code of sportsmanship known simply as “The Code.” As mysterious as it is sacred, the Code is an unwritten set of rules that has been handed down from generation to generation. While the Code has been around since the early days of the game’s inception, it remains a very taboo subject shrouded in secrecy. In fact, many players are simply unwilling to talk about it on the record.. until now that is.

Under the specter of penalties, fines and suspensions, players have to use stealth when retaliating against dirty players out on the field. Sure, bench clearing brawls will occur from time to time, but most of the revenge that goes on is behind the scenes. Patience must be exercised when settling old scores and the veterans will wait until the time is right to exact the justice they feel fits the crime. While the game has changed immensely over the years, one thing remains the same — the players still police themselves. They know that if they break the rules of the Code, then there will be hell to pay. You see, football is all about respect and disrespect, and if a teammate is cheap-shotted, blind-sided or is chopped at the knees, then the wheels of retaliation will be set into motion. Players must be accountable for their actions, the Code says so.

The Code is not just about head-slaps, verbal taunting and the many unseen horrors that can occur under the pile though. It is also about running up the score late on a team, excessive celebrations, head-hunting after interceptions, bounties, eye-gouging and rookie initiations. There is a fine line between cheating and gamesmanship and the players and coaches have always been on the lookout for an edge. The old adage “if you ain’t cheatin, you ain’t tryin” has always applied out on the gridiron and includes things such as stick-um, siliconed jerseys, cold showers, and of course, steroids. And let’s not forget all of the espionage that goes on both on and off the field as well. Everything from “Spy-Gate” to dummy playbooks to lip-reading is fair game, unless that is, you get caught.

Lastly, the issue playing hurt is firmly addressed in the book — a viral topic that evoked great emotion from the players, especially the ones who feel betrayed by the league as well as their own union with regards to being taken care of in terms of pensions and medical treatment. They are the walking wounded and finally have a platform to be heard. The “Gridiron Greats” portion of the book may change the way you see the game forever.

To fully understand the significance and history behind the Code, Ross Bernstein, the best-selling author of more than 40 sports books, including the “Hockey Code” and “Baseball Code,” interviewed more than 100 current and former NFL players, coaches, referees, front office employees and media personalities for this highly anticipated sequel. Their insight and memories provide a truly fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how these modern day gladiators tackle the subjects of respect, accountability, ethics, pride and honor. They explain why various “rules” are expected among players and what tactics are used during games. Extensive quotes are featured in the book and readers will be shocked and amazed at just how much information is actually revealed. The players all agree, this is a without a doubt a must-read for sports fans who want the inside scoop on a topic so rarely discussed.