In this year's very strong field of sports gifts, The Football Book probably leads the pack. This stunning coffee table item, put together by the editors at Sports Illustrated, will thrill both committed and casual fans of pro football. Hundreds of amazing action photographs, most of them in bright color, are held together by more than three dozen essays by such topnotch SI veteran contributors as Peter King, Paul Zimmerman, Dan Jenkins and Rick Telander. The coverage reveals the NFL in all its diversified historical glory: the players, the coaches, the big games, the equipment, the crowds, the great single moments, the ecstatic victories and the tough defeats. The photos are, in some cases, simply breathtaking, whether it's a tableaux of jewel-encrusted Super Bowl rings, a series of close-ups of old game balls, a shot of Joe Montana unleashing a pass while surrounded by attacking defenders or a glimpse of a thoughtful Vince Lombardi surveying his troops from the sideline. Heck, even the dust jacket here is a beauty, featuring helmeted head shots of 75 of the game's greats. Among the interesting textual entries are conversation-starting listings of the top 25 all-time players at each position, as well as a tribute to former Arizona Cardinals defensive back Pat Tillman, who left football in his prime to serve in Iraq and was killed in the line of duty. Suprisingly, this treasure trove is as attractive in its affordable price ($29.95) as it is in its engrossing content. Martin Brady is making out his Christmas list at home in Nashville.

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