“The Billion Dollar Game” (Doubleday, 264 pages, $24.95), by Allen St. John

Remember the Giants’ go-ahead drive in the final minutes of the Super Bowl last year? Remember Eli Manning spinning free of a certain sack to heave a pass to David Tyree, who improbably clamped the ball to his helmet?

Well, the buildup to that Super Bowl – the TV production meetings, the party planning, the stadium building, the commercial filming – is a story in itself. But, no surprise, it’s nowhere near as interesting.

Veteran sports writer Allen St. John spent months checking in with some of the behind-the-scenes people who help make the Super Bowl a de facto national holiday. He clocked a lot of time with the guys running the Fox production truck, the stadium architect and the Playboy party planners, among others.

St. John is a good sports writer, but the problem with describing hype is that once a reporter pierces the skin of the balloon, the main thing left to write about is hot air. The people he writes about seem nice and some of them have interesting jobs. But it’s hard to craft a compelling book-length narrative on the quest for the perfect camera coverage or planning an exclusive pre-Super Bowl party that 99.99 percent of readers would be excluded.

St. John occasionally seems to get caught up in the hype himself: A party planner is said to have the eyes of an athlete hungry for the ball; a director of TV commercials is called legendary.

The book only hits its stride toward the end when the game is on. St. John has interesting observations about watching an NFL game from the field and a neat analysis of Joe Buck’s play-by-play on the Manning-to-Tyree play. There are fun passages in the book. But there is too much stuff that while well observed, isn’t terribly interesting. Rubbing shoulders with actor Tom Arnold at an exclusive Super Bowl party just doesn’t have the same narrative drive as a last-minute desperation pass.

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