...crisply written ... The pros of Ribowsky’s account are plentiful, and the cons—the inclusion of eye-glazing financial details for every contract a Manning ever signed, a certain repetitiveness in narrating game details—are minor. Ribowsky is perceptive and articulate on the darker facets of the Mannings’ ties to the University of Mississippi and its long history as a bastion of retrograde Southern pride, and he is unblinking on the ugly and protracted Jamie Naughright affair, in which Peyton Manning repeatedly sought to silence and discredit the woman who accused him of sexual assault while at the University of Tennessee. Peyton, in fact, comes across as a pill in these pages: often churlish and unfunny, a killjoy and a goody two-shoes, weirdly obsessed with milking every last advertising dollar out of his celebrity—much to our collective irritation.
There is nothing here that we have not seen or heard, even though there are many things left to learn about the Mannings. It would be fascinating to know how, for example, in the embrace of the sort of wealth and fame and idolatry enjoyed by today’s football stars, Peyton and Eli turned out to be generally reasonable, sensible, sane and good-humored men. They are far from perfect, but they haven’t been soured by all the attention. The most striking thing about In the Name of the Father, in fact, is its almost total reliance on the work done by others. Mr. Ribowsky spoke with no one in the Manning family and with none of the Mannings’ close friends. There are only a handful of interviews cited here, all quite briefly and none of which shed much light ... Instead of a deep dive, In the Name of the Father offers a digest of mainstream journalism, a summary of the three Manning careers. Every season they played, from college through the pros. Every game. Much of it tedious, empty of meaning ... This isn’t to suggest that there is no value in being reminded of the Mannings’ phenomenal playing careers ... There is, after all, some virtue in having all of this transcendence gathered up in one place.
Ribowsky, author of numerous sports biographies, has included three life stories here in one volume ... Ribowsky relies too heavily on game detail, but it’s worth it for the insight he provides into the very different personalities and approaches to the game of each of the Mannings. A fascinating account of a football family.