Robert Ursin, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Are you ready for some football?

If so, then only part of this book is for you. Yes, you heard me right. Only part of this is for you.

This book is really like a recipe found in a cookbook, but with an edge. Take a smalltown southwestern Pennsylvania boy, add football and wrestling, a dash of collegiate success, a beauty queen, a journey to the professional level of sports, a career change and finally behind-the-scene boardroom negotiations and fights and you get a love story.

A love story? Are you serious?! I can hear you saying it, screaming it even. I am serious and now I shall explain.

By Ralph Cindrich.

Lyons Press ($26.95).
Ralph Cindrich, star football player and wrestler from tiny Avella, in Washington County, learned his lessons with a hard-handed father, a loving family and supportive community. He then took the lessons learned from those experiences to the University of Pittsburgh, where he became a wrestling champion and earned All-American honors in football and met the love of his life. Then he ascended to the National Football League and had a four-year career in which he played with the New England Patriots, the Houston Oilers and the Denver Broncos.

Very barebones to the background I know, however, it doesn’t take much to describe things that many of us in the region have experienced either first- or secondhand. We’ve been there or know others who have been.

When Mr. Cindrich’s football days were numbered, he entered law school. After retiring from the NFL and graduating, he then opened a law office in the Houston, Texas, area. Along the way he turned his legal mind to serving his fellow players, and that is when the fireworks that could make Zambelli’s turn green with envy began.

Mr. Cindrich then takes us behind the scenes to the offices, boardrooms and anywhere else a deal can be made between players and owners in the NFL. Fully half the book is related directly to his dealings in the NFL beginning as a player then transitioning to one of the premier player’s agents.

We get to see, hear and experience some behind-the-scenes stuff here with a couple notes of caution. If you cross a sailor with a truck driver, you will be on familiar ground with the language used. If you think you have an idea of how things work in the matter of contract dealings in the NFL, you are wrong. Finally, beware of labeling behavior or personality. We are all different under pressure, and sometimes it is necessary to do more than push the envelope. Sometimes, according to Mr. Cindrich, you need to wad it up and toss it in the other guy’s face.

Throughout the book you will meet many players, executives and personalities. Mr. Cindrich is not shy about showing how he wheels and deals, steps on toes and eventually gets a deal he and his client can be satisfied with.

Now for the love story I mentioned at the start. Pay attention to the language between the lines; not the cussing and fussing, but what Mr. Cindrich is saying implicitly. Read how he talks of his family, his friends, those who have helped form him into who he is. He is not just someone being brash, combative or even arrogant, but someone who loves and is in love with all that he writes about. Mr. Cindrich has scored a touchdown with this book.