If Football's a Religion, Why Don't We Have a Prayer?: Philadelphia, Its Faithful, and the Eternal Quest for Sports Salvation

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Harper Collins, Sep 13, 2005 - Sports & Recreation - 276 pages

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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Contents

Section 1
1
Section 2
13
Section 3
27
Section 4
38
Section 5
48
Section 6
57
Section 7
63
Section 8
72
Section 18
161
Section 19
166
Section 20
184
Section 21
192
Section 22
202
Section 23
206
Section 24
213
Section 25
219

Section 9
79
Section 10
90
Section 11
99
Section 12
107
Section 13
119
Section 14
127
Section 15
131
Section 16
137
Section 17
149
Section 26
224
Section 27
229
Section 28
236
Section 29
244
Section 30
262
Section 31
267
Section 32
275
Section 33
277
Copyright

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About the author (2005)

Jeré Longman is a sports reporter for the New York Times whose books include the national bestseller Among the Heroes: United Flight 93 and the Passengers and Crew Who Fought Back and The Hurricanes: One High School Team's Homecoming After Katrina, chosen by Slate magazine as one of the Best Books of 2008.

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