Spirals tracks the relationship between football and higher education through the lens of one family’s involvement in the sport. Spears’s grandfather, Clarence “Doc” Spears, was an All-American guard at Dartmouth in the early twentieth century, played on the Canton Bulldogs with Jim Thorpe, and later became a College Hall of Fame coach. His father, Robert Spears, captained Yale’s 1951 team and was drafted by the Chicago Bears. By the time Tim went to Yale in the mid 1970s, it was more than talent or enthusiasm that prompted him to play football there.


Ranging over a century of history, this memoir explores what the males in Spears’s family learned from playing football and how the game’s educational importance shifted over time.