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A Pro Football Team's Quest for Glory, Fame, Immortality, and a Bigger Piece of the Action

by Mark Bowden

Pub Date: Oct. 7th, 1994
ISBN: 0-679-42841-0
Publisher: Knopf

An ambitious, remarkably frank, but overlong and digressive chronicle of the Philadelphia Eagles' 1992 season by a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter. Bowden begins and ends in the middle of the Eagles' dramatic come-from-behind playoff victory over New Orleans in January 1993. In between are 400 pages of reconstruction of behind-the-scenes goings-on, as well as highly personal profiles of the players, coaches, and owner Norman Braman. Just prior to the start of the football season, All-Pro defensive lineman Jerome Brown was killed in an auto accident. The talented, irrepressible Brown was mouthy and loud, often flabby from poor workout habits, and apparently determined to set an NFL record for paternity suits and speeding tickets. His locker became a shrine, and his loss helped bring to light the team's barely concealed divisions and animosities. Linebacker Seth Joyner became openly insulting to ``franchise quarterback'' Randall (Randoll, Joyner called him) Cunningham, accusing him publicly of consistently letting the team down in the clutch. Joyner and the rest of the defense were ``Buddy's Boys,'' hard-nosed athletes assembled by fiery, controversial Buddy Ryan, axed the previous year and replaced as head coach by the team's relatively inexperienced offensive coordinator, Rich Kotite—soon dubbed Coach Uptight by the press. As the season progressed and the team disintegrated, Bowden reenacts a wild fight in the stands between defensive back Wes Hopkins's wife and mistress and other fairly irrelevant outbursts. His recounting of the more pertinent football controversies, such as the debate over whether Cunningham or Jim McMahon should be quarterback, demonstrate the depth of the venomous feelings within the team. By midseason, even the press was urging the players to ``shut up and play football.'' Bowden's writing has an it's-all-so-amusing edge. As incident- laden and wacky as the season was, he's too long-winded to sustain interest. (16 pages photos, not seen) (Author tour)