Review: Sports Illustrated The Football Book for iPad

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Sports Illustrated The Football Book for iPad

Sports Illustrated The Football Book for iPad is a celebration of America’s most popular sport, football, and in particular the professional version of it. It’s an homage to one of our great sports, and to many unforgettable NFL greats, from the publishers of probably our country’s greatest sports publication.

Here’s a slice of its App Store description:

Sports Illustrated The Football Book App commemorates the dynasties and the dominating players, the crucial plays and classic games, the personalities and performances that propelled the NFL from a marginal, ragtag league to the biggest game in town.

With unforgettable images and award-winning stories, this application brings to life the bone-rattling impact and the breathtaking athleticism that have made pro football America’s true national pastime.

Dive into the game as its history unfolds position by position in both landscape and portrait orientation. See spectacular photos from every era of the sport and read stories from Sports Illustrated’s top writers like Peter King, Paul Zimmerman, Frank Deford, Rick Telander and George Plimpton.

-Landscape and portrait orientation
-Filmstrip tool for easy navigation
-Clickable table of contents
-Audio commentary by legendary photographer Neil Leifer

And here are my thoughts after spending several days with the app …

The (Very) Good

Sports Illustrated The Football Book

Spectacularly good photography. If you’ve ever seen a copy of Sports Illustrated, you know this is one of its top calling cards – from superb action shots of critical moments to excellent portraits of stars like Ray Lewis and (then) Chad Johnson shown above.

Here’s just a few more examples for your viewing pleasure:

Brady’s deadly stare …

Sports Illustrated The Football Book for iPad

Favre in his element …


One of Lynn Swann’s many amazing clutch catches and Jim Brown at work …


A Treasure Trove of NFL History. From pre-NFL days and stars to current stars. If you’re a football fan, especially one who, shall we say, has been a fan for a long time, this book is chock full of nostalgia and memories of great players, great moments, and great games. Some will be instantly familiar as you turn a page, some will be welcome surprises and reminders of great players you’d forgotten about.

Great Sports Writing: Again, if you know Sports Illustrated you know that much of what makes it such a great title is the great sportswriters that fill its pages. These are just a handful of epic stories that have caught my eye so far:

A tribute to maybe the greatest, and certainly the most exciting, running back ever …


A Michael Silver piece on Peyton Manning after the Colts Super Bowl win …


And a tribute to Da Bears monster defense in 86 …

Sports Illustrated The Football Book for iPad

What’s Disappointing

Missed Opportunities: The iPad is a great medium for showing off SI’s wealth of great NFL writing and photos, and that’s of course done well here. The iPad could do so much more with this subject though. Here’s a portion of the App Store description that I have to disagree with:

In the iPad version of this best-selling book, the sport comes alive through photo galleries, slide shows and audio commentary by famed SI photographer Neil Leifer.

The audio clips (which there are not that many of) are a nice touch, no argument on that. But that’s more or less it for multimedia elements in the book, and that’s just nowhere near what could have been done. Why not have video alongside some of the great moments? As great as some of the photos are, it wouldn’t hurt to see some video clips mixed in to help fully re-live some of the game’s classic moments.

Or why not some player interview audio clips?

There are no interactive elements in the book. It would’ve been great to choose your favorite team and be taken to a section on just that team. Or to have pages where you could choose to see stats comparisons between four great quarterbacks, or five running backs, or similar options. Or even just be able to tap on a player photo – in one of the cool Top 25 lists say – and see some Bio and career stats type information. Maybe even vote on which players you’d rank where, and see results change as readers have their say.


Missing Basics: You can’t even pinch and zoom on any of the images – and when you see a great set of player or coach photos, you can’t tap on any of them to see individual pics.


There’s no search within the app – which is another big miss. Since the only navigation options are the table of contents and a pretty basic thumbnails-powered bottom slider bar, it would be very helpful to be able to search for content you’re interested in. And of course there’s no sharing via email or any other methods.

Feels like a Coffee Table Book: Your mileage may vary on this one. Maybe that’s all it needs to be. The content is certainly stellar enough to support that argument. I’d like more in an iPad edition, because I know there could be so much more.


If you’re an NFL fan, and especially if you also enjoy Sports Illustrated, this is a book you’re going to enjoy a lot. Despite my gripes about how it could take (much) more advantage of the iPad there’s no denying the excellent content contained in the app.

For younger football fans, it’s a great introduction to the game’s rich history, while for (cough) veteran fans like myself it’s a fun trip down memory lane and another chance to enjoy a whole lot of excellent SI writing and photography.

I hope SI may even decide to update it with some multimedia and interactive elements in future; that would take it to another level as an iPad coffee table book.

You can find Sports Illustrated The Football Book in the App Store now, priced at $7.99 as a special ‘introductory’ offer until November 14,2010.

*** This app was independently purchased by the post author in the iPhone App Store. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.

Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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