Cover image for First and last seasons : a father, a son, and Sunday afternoon football
First and last seasons : a father, a son, and Sunday afternoon football
McGraw, Dan, 1959-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Doubleday, [2000]

Physical Description:
298 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV956.C6 M34 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
GV956.C6 M34 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Reminiscent of Frederick Exley's A Fan's Notes and James Dodson's Final Rounds,First and Last Seasonsis not only a courageously confessional memoir but a work of resounding originality-a Rust Belt requiem for a father written by the black sheep son he leaves behind. Dan McGraw did not plan to go home to help his father die. To the thirty-nine-year-old Texas-based senior editor forU.S. News & World Report, Cleveland, Ohio, was a million miles away. Dan was the prodigal middle son within a large Irish-Catholic family, and life never really got going until he was far away from the city and his dominant father, Richard. But the gravitational pull of his hometown grew stronger as each year passed by. The final tug home came when the NFL announced that the Cleveland Browns football franchise would be resurrected for the 1999-2000 season. All McGraws and Clevelanders are die-hard Sunday afternoon football fans, and Dan decided to take a leave of absence and cover the Browns' first season. Soon thereafter, Richard was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Dan came home to a press pass and the caretaking chores for a father intent on dying the way he lived, on his own terms. First and Last Seasonsis a heart-wrenching work about fathers and sons, the binding influence of community, and how emotionally disconnected men find a common language in sports. It is also a poignantly funny and charming celebration of one man's life and how his sacrifices and mistakes helped his son find the best part of himself. A beautifully written, intensely personal story, this cathartic chronicle of how Dan participated in his father's final season is sure to speak to the millions of fathers and sons who have trouble finding the voice to express their love for one another.

Author Notes

Dan McGraw is a senior editor for "U.S. News & World Report." He lives in Fort Worth, Texas, with his daughter, Meredith.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Sports are often the glue that holds together relationships between fathers and sons. There's nothing to salve the hurt of sharp words like the shared passion for a local team. McGraw, a senior editor for U.S. News and World Report, came home to Cleveland intending to write a book about the new Cleveland Browns National Football League team. (The old Browns, before they moved to Baltimore, were the shared passion of McGraw and his father, Richard.) But the plan changed when Richard was diagnosed with inoperable colon cancer. The young McGraw, with the enthusiastic cooperation of his father, decided to chronicle his father's last months and, in doing so, to try to make some sense of father-son relationships. This is an emotionally draining journey, a trip through good days and bad, but with the destination always in sight. Readers familiar with sports memoirs will notice the similarity between this volume and last year's Our Tribe, by Terry Pluto. In both, a successful son comes home to act as caregiver and confidant to a dying father. Although First and Last is darker and contains less humor than Our Tribe, it is equally satisfying. As we read of the McGraws, we inevitably examine our own family relationships with both the generation that preceded us and the one that follows. A powerful memoir. --Wes Lukowsky

Publisher's Weekly Review

At the beginning of this memoir, McGraw leaves his position as an editor at U.S. News & World Report to spend time with his dying father in Cleveland, and to investigate the resurgence of the city's beloved professional football franchise, the Browns. The book awkwardly encompasses aspects of autobiography, biography, social commentary, history and sports-page analysis, leaving McGraw pondering a range of death-bed emotions on one page and the Browns' depth at linebacker on the next. Though McGraw clearly respects and loves his father, his portrait of a no-nonsense Catholic always ready with a sardonic smirk suggests where McGraw inherited his dislike for cloying sentimentality. His tone is biting and blue-collar, as are many of the old friends he encounters in the neighborhood bars he frequents. He portrays their abuse of drugs and alcohol with no apologies, as if such behavior were a necessary survival skill to overcome the city's cold Lake Erie winds and humiliating losses in all fields of professional sport. The barroom wisdom of his writing is comfortable, though it occasionally grows tiresome, as when McGraw opines that women hold grudges because "they have never had the experience of fighting hard against each other on the football field and then putting that aside." But most of McGraw's insights, particularly into Cleveland itself and the Browns' smarmy new management, are funny enough to carry readers through the book's many clumsy transitions. The book's brown-and-orange cover will draw Cleveland fans, but it may not be enough to catch the eye of other football devotees. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This disturbing yet moving memoir of a brave man facing his own mortality is set around the author's coming of age, his struggle to come to terms with his family and his father, and the rebirth of the football team both father and son loved. McGraw, a senior editor at U.S. News & World Report, took a leave from his job and returned to his boyhood home of Cleveland to write about the "new" Cleveland Browns. At the same time, his father was diagnosed with inoperable, terminal cancer. In the author's youth, both he and his father had loved the old Browns as only Cleveland fans can. The new Browns seemed to bring them together as the father slipped away and the son tried to come to terms with his death. Anyone who has experienced the death of a parent will cry. Highly recommended for all libraries.DWilliam Scheeren, Hempfield Area H.S. Lib., Greensburg, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.