I usually review books about Texas history or biographies about Texans who have done something significant or unusually interesting. When I was asked to read and possibly review S. C. Gwynne’s latest work The Perfect Pass: American Genius and the Reinvention of Football, I almost begged off, as it appeared at first blush to be neither a Texas history nor a biography of a Texan of note. I certainly had never heard of Hal Mumme.
When the review copy of The Perfect Pass arrived, I deigned to read the introduction since I had thoroughly enjoyed Gwynn’s excellent history, Empire of the Summer Moon. The introduction was very intriguing, so I went ahead and read the first chapter, and after that I voraciously devoured the rest of the book.
The Perfect Pass is the story of how Hal Mumme, a Texas high school coach, tried to figure out a way for his less athletic and less talented football teams to defeat much bigger and better teams. Taking a lesson from the story of David and Goliath, Mumme decided that the only way to defeat giants was by going to the air. Using an entirely new offensive system with an obsessive emphasis on the passing game and by honing techniques that he begged, borrowed or stole from others, Mumme then perfected what would later become known as the “Air Raid.”
His teams began to defeat teams that were much better on paper by lopsided scores on the playing field. If this were not enough, he began to seek out even bigger and tougher giants to crush with the Air Raid. As Mumme’s teams racked up unbelievable passing yardage and huge scores, football coaches across the country were forced to take notice of Mumme and his almost mysterious offensive strategy.
A soon to be inspirational self help classic, The Perfect Pass: American Genius and the Reinvention of Football has a scheduled publication date of September 20, 2016, and will be available from Scribner. The book should make for a very inspirational movie. We at the Texas History Page can't wait.