If Football's a Religion, Why Don't We Have a Prayer?: Philadelphia, Its Faithful, and the Eternal Quest for Sports Salvation
The last time a Philadelphia professional sports team won a championship, Ronald Reagan was in the White House and Return of the Jediwas number one at the box office. No city with all four major sports -- football, basketball, baseball and hockey -- has gone longer without a championship. The local NFL franchise, the Eagles, has not won a titlesince 1960, putting its devoted fans through decades of futility and heartbreak.
But finally, in 2004, following three consecutive wrenching losses in the NFC championship game, the beleaguered Eagles finally had a shot. After superstar wide receiver Terrell Owens injured his ankle, the fans reacted with a peculiar blend of hope and dread, but stuck by the team. And when Owens returned for the Super Bowl, the city sat poised, at long last, on the verge of sporting salvation.
In the tradition of Fever Pitch and Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, and peppered with riotous anecdotes about the superfans, grandstand brawlers and football lunatics who make Philadelphia one of the most entertaining places in America to watch a game, If Football's a Religion, Why Don't We Have a Prayer? is the hilarious day-by-day account of the operatic passion of Eagle fans, as it threatens to spin out of control in the dizzying buildup to the team's first appearance in the Super Bowl since 1981. From the city's annual Wing Bowl, a near-mythological gastronomic fete in which contestants attempt to devour their weight in chicken wings, to oversize and outlandish Eagle lawn decorations, to hygiene-defying contests for playoff tickets, Eagle enthusiasm is raised to a bizarre new level. Even Pennsylvania's governor, Ed Rendell, a season-ticket holder, gets in on the act, splitting his duties between the state house and a local sports cable channel, where he spends two hours analyzing each Eagles game.
With unprecedented detail and firsthand reporting, New York Times sportswriter and longtime resident of Philadelphia Jere Longman reveals what happens when the losingest sports town in America finally has a shot at winning it all.
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If Football's a Religion, Why Don't We Have a Prayer?: Philadelphia, Its ...
Limited preview - 2009