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Hail Mary: The Rise and Fall of the National Women's Football League

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The groundbreaking story of the National Women’s Football League, and the players whose spirit, rivalries, and tenacity changed the legacy of women’s sports forever. In 1967, a Cleveland promoter recruited a group of women to compete as a traveling football troupe. It was conceived as a gimmick—in the vein of the Harlem Globetrotters—but the women who signed up really want The groundbreaking story of the National Women’s Football League, and the players whose spirit, rivalries, and tenacity changed the legacy of women’s sports forever. In 1967, a Cleveland promoter recruited a group of women to compete as a traveling football troupe. It was conceived as a gimmick—in the vein of the Harlem Globetrotters—but the women who signed up really wanted to play. And they were determined to win. Hail Mary chronicles the highs and lows of the National Women’s Football League, which took root in nineteen cities across the US over the course of two decades. Drawing on new interviews with former players from the Detroit Demons, the Toledo Troopers, the LA Dandelions, and more, Hail Mary brings us into the stadiums where they broke records, the small-town lesbian bars where they were recruited, and the backrooms where the league was formed, championed, and eventually shuttered. In an era of vibrant second wave feminism and Title IX activism, the athletes of the National Women’s Football League were boisterous pioneers on and off the field: you’ll be rooting for them from start to finish.


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The groundbreaking story of the National Women’s Football League, and the players whose spirit, rivalries, and tenacity changed the legacy of women’s sports forever. In 1967, a Cleveland promoter recruited a group of women to compete as a traveling football troupe. It was conceived as a gimmick—in the vein of the Harlem Globetrotters—but the women who signed up really want The groundbreaking story of the National Women’s Football League, and the players whose spirit, rivalries, and tenacity changed the legacy of women’s sports forever. In 1967, a Cleveland promoter recruited a group of women to compete as a traveling football troupe. It was conceived as a gimmick—in the vein of the Harlem Globetrotters—but the women who signed up really wanted to play. And they were determined to win. Hail Mary chronicles the highs and lows of the National Women’s Football League, which took root in nineteen cities across the US over the course of two decades. Drawing on new interviews with former players from the Detroit Demons, the Toledo Troopers, the LA Dandelions, and more, Hail Mary brings us into the stadiums where they broke records, the small-town lesbian bars where they were recruited, and the backrooms where the league was formed, championed, and eventually shuttered. In an era of vibrant second wave feminism and Title IX activism, the athletes of the National Women’s Football League were boisterous pioneers on and off the field: you’ll be rooting for them from start to finish.

30 review for Hail Mary: The Rise and Fall of the National Women's Football League

  1. 5 out of 5

    Olive Fellows (abookolive)

    Sports can empower female athletes and subvert popular expectations around what women can do. For example, the notion that women aren’t tough enough to play football. In “Hail Mary: The Rise and Fall of the National Women’s Football League,” sportswriters Britni de la Cretaz and Lyndsey D’Arcangelo delve into the history of the largely forgotten women’s football league. Click here to read the rest of my review in the Christian Science Monitor! Sports can empower female athletes and subvert popular expectations around what women can do. For example, the notion that women aren’t tough enough to play football. In “Hail Mary: The Rise and Fall of the National Women’s Football League,” sportswriters Britni de la Cretaz and Lyndsey D’Arcangelo delve into the history of the largely forgotten women’s football league. Click here to read the rest of my review in the Christian Science Monitor!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Joy Messinger

    [4 stars] A historical retelling and analysis of the origins and endings of the National Women's Football League during the 1960's-80's. I've followed Britni de la Cretaz and Lyndsey D'Arcangelo's writing over the years, and they bring their signature style combining X's and O's with humanizing profiles with sharp feminist critique to Hail Mary as well. Despite being a fan of both the NFL and women's sports in general (though soccer and basketball primarily), I wasn't aware of the NWFL prior to [4 stars] A historical retelling and analysis of the origins and endings of the National Women's Football League during the 1960's-80's. I've followed Britni de la Cretaz and Lyndsey D'Arcangelo's writing over the years, and they bring their signature style combining X's and O's with humanizing profiles with sharp feminist critique to Hail Mary as well. Despite being a fan of both the NFL and women's sports in general (though soccer and basketball primarily), I wasn't aware of the NWFL prior to hearing about this book in 2021. It was a fun read, balancing interviews and conversations with game play-by-play and other media coverage. I was fascinated by the intersectional race, class, and gender lens they brought to their examination of the league, though wish there had been a deeper dive into the mentioned parallel history between the NWFL's rise and fall and the impacts of globalization on the heavily industrial Rust Belt (and beyond) team locations in Western New York, Ohio, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Texas. Recommended for readers of longform sports writing, fans of women's and/or lqueer and/or working class histories, or anyone who's watched the dramatized game footage of Friday Night Lights and thought "clear eyes, full hearts, more lesbians". Goodreads Challenge 2022: 10/52 Feminist Reading Challenge: a book about queer joy Nonfiction Reading Challenge: a book linked to a podcast [it has the overall tone and framing of my feminist sports fave, Burn It All Down, as well as an interview with the authors - https://www.burnitalldownpod.com/epis...]

  3. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    Hail Mary welcomes readers to 1970s-80s women's football in the NWFL. We find ourselves in an era fresh with Title IX when many women hadn't experienced organized, athletic opportunities in school, and if they did, it certainly wasn't football, that hypermasculine ideal of tackling, getting down in the dirt, and sometimes bleeding for the game. The book tells the story of fiercely passionate athletes who loved their game despite the many pitfalls and structural disadvantages facing their teams a Hail Mary welcomes readers to 1970s-80s women's football in the NWFL. We find ourselves in an era fresh with Title IX when many women hadn't experienced organized, athletic opportunities in school, and if they did, it certainly wasn't football, that hypermasculine ideal of tackling, getting down in the dirt, and sometimes bleeding for the game. The book tells the story of fiercely passionate athletes who loved their game despite the many pitfalls and structural disadvantages facing their teams and league at large. The reporting here features commentary on society: gender roles, race, queerness, and class. The athletes were largely working-class women from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds and with a large contingent of queer women (on the Dallas team, some teammates decided to try out while at a lesbian bar together). The book is also a celebration of these women as professional football players. Their colorful personalities come through in their personal accounts as well as their pride in their on-field accomplishments. The authors strike a good balance between descriptive content and analysis. They cover how contemporary journalists treated the women and how the team owners tried to entice the public. The players' stories have often been told through the male lens, focused on entertainment value or as a heart-warming story rather than a sporting event worth discussing on its athletic merits. There was a lot of focus on the women's looks, whether it was to hypersexualize and demean, make fatphobic remarks, or to lob broad homophobic comments at women who didn't fit the feminine ideal (arguably all the players, since they dared to play professional football). Other hurdles were the gendered disparities in equipment available, venues for practice & play, and the complete lack of salary (the standard rate was only $25 a game to begin with) for some players as well as owners who wouldn't always pay medical insurance. The authors also delve into the many reasons the league fell apart, including finances and the nature of sports fandom-- the NWFL didn't get enough time to establish fan support and to see financial dividends. I recommend this for football fans specifically: positions and plays are described that added to my enjoyment but could be frustrating for someone who isn't already familiar with the game or who wouldn't appreciate that degree of detail. For me, it brought some exciting games to life and highlighted the physicality and achievements of these teams.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    A fascinating history on a little-remembered sports league that quietly served as the catalyst for so many women's sports today. De la Cretaz and D'Arcangelo not only bring heart and life to these histories but dissect why women's professional sports leagues continue to struggle for recognition and give an optimistic look at the slow but steady march of women's professional sports to a state of equality. A fascinating history on a little-remembered sports league that quietly served as the catalyst for so many women's sports today. De la Cretaz and D'Arcangelo not only bring heart and life to these histories but dissect why women's professional sports leagues continue to struggle for recognition and give an optimistic look at the slow but steady march of women's professional sports to a state of equality.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    The National Women's Football League was born into the early years of Title IX, when women playing sports at all was considered a novelty, and often a burden. The players had all grown up in an era where women were afforded very few job opportunities and very little independence of any kind. The desire to go out and play the sport they loved, just for the love of the game, ran deep. They suffered through endless barrages of media attempts to discredit and make a farce of their league, and interv The National Women's Football League was born into the early years of Title IX, when women playing sports at all was considered a novelty, and often a burden. The players had all grown up in an era where women were afforded very few job opportunities and very little independence of any kind. The desire to go out and play the sport they loved, just for the love of the game, ran deep. They suffered through endless barrages of media attempts to discredit and make a farce of their league, and interview upon interview where reporters felt compelled to ask the ultimate question that showed just how incomprehensible much of the country still found women's sports -- Why would you even want to do this? If not to prove you're "as good as" men or to make money, why even bother? While early reports decried the gameplay as "bloody bad" and a measly showing of 4,000 fans dwindled steadily to under 1,500, these women persisted to seize every opportunity they had to play the game they loved. Eventually comprising 19 teams (though no more than 11 at a time) all over the country, the NWFL saw its most active years between 1975 and 1978. With as much diversity in skill as in race and sexual orientation, the NWFL was as much a social club as a professional sports team. As remains true for many women's professional football clubs today, no experience with the game at all was required to tryout, and even when teams rostered 30 players, they rarely felt confident in fielding more than half for an actual game. Regardless, these women remained truly committed to learning their sport and putting forth their best effort in every game. In many cities today, you are still more likely to find fledgling professional women's tackle football teams than recreational opportunities for women. Just one of many things that makes it hard to give these leagues the credibility they deserve (and one aspect completely neglected in this book). Overall, I found this book extremely informative and a quick and enjoyable read. That said, by the middle, some of the teams, players, and other people associated with the teams were hard to keep straight and could have used some more biographical definition to give them their own spotlight. I found the focus on the Toledo Troopers to be far and away the easiest to follow, and I wonder if this book would have done better to center on them with the league as a broader context in the background. Although I did enjoy reading about all the teams and players, I was surprised to see in the appendix just how many teams were around for much longer that were not profiled in the book at all (particularly the Columbus Pacesetters). I was also disappointed that for all of the discussion of feminism and the women's liberation movement in the background, there were only brief statements regarding the different ways in which queer players experienced that context and no mention at all of the experience of players of color in that regard. Especially with the strong insistence of many players to refuse to be associated with women's lib, that lack of context felt to me to be a disservice. I think it would be hard to talk about this league without discussing the context of Title IX and women's lib, but if you're going to go there, you need to do it in a way that's respectful to the experiences of all players, especially if you are going to repeatedly tout the diversity of the league. Again, I really did like this book and highly recommend it to sports fans of all kinds. Much thanks to Bold Type and Netgalley for the review copy.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Carmel

    I couldn't tell you anything about the rules of football beyond the absolute, bare-bones basics, but this was a great read. Hail Mary tells the untold story of the National Women's Football League and the tough women who took the field. Although football is known as a man's game through and through, this book digs up a lot of old history of women playing the game dating back over 100 years ago and traces those threads to the 1970s when a Cleveland-based event promoter decided to launch a league I couldn't tell you anything about the rules of football beyond the absolute, bare-bones basics, but this was a great read. Hail Mary tells the untold story of the National Women's Football League and the tough women who took the field. Although football is known as a man's game through and through, this book digs up a lot of old history of women playing the game dating back over 100 years ago and traces those threads to the 1970s when a Cleveland-based event promoter decided to launch a league of his own with the aim of exploiting the "gimmick" for money. From there, women's football teams started sprouting up across the country, largely concentrated in the Midwest, Texas and California before eventually forming a fully-fledged professional league with women who wanted to do more than just toss the ball around for men to laugh at. You can tell de la Cretaz and D'Archangelo did both deep research into the media coverage of the teams and the history of women in football, but they also put in the work to get deep interviews with the players themselves. They were single mothers, factory workers, teachers, college students and lesbians who saw the ads to play posted in their local queer bars. With Title IX just hitting the stage, women's sports were just beginning and this book makes their absolute drive to play after years relegated to the bleachers shine. The book tells great stories of famous games, rivalries between storied teams and superstar players like the Toledo Troopers Linda Jefferson, one of the best scoring players in football, period. The book also captures the multifaceted time in which these women played the game, digging into how these women felt about feminism, the women's liberation movement and how their groundbreaking league fit into the changing political landscape. For some, that identity fit, but for many others, they didn't mesh with the upper-middle-class white image of liberation sweeping the nation. Just by being themselves, they were already subverting gender norms in multiple ways. If more sports books were like this one, I would the genre much more often.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Veronica

    I love football. Despite all the things I know about football, I love the game. I loved playing it as a kid. I love watching it on TV. And when Chicago had a women's professional team, I went to watch them play as much as possible. I never gave the history of women's football much thought. I assumed as with most women's sporting leagues there was some connection, if not a root to Title IX. "Hail Mary" tells a much longer tale that stretches further back than 1972. The thread that is woven throug I love football. Despite all the things I know about football, I love the game. I loved playing it as a kid. I love watching it on TV. And when Chicago had a women's professional team, I went to watch them play as much as possible. I never gave the history of women's football much thought. I assumed as with most women's sporting leagues there was some connection, if not a root to Title IX. "Hail Mary" tells a much longer tale that stretches further back than 1972. The thread that is woven throughout the book about players not identifying as feminists or part of the feminist movement, especially in the 1970s was fascinating. And a great read for people who are frustrated by women who distance themselves from the movement. An added bonus to this book is I came away learning more about football itself. Again, I'm a fan, but I am not a student of the game. I don't understand all the plays and positions. I have a stronger sense of what is happening on the field though Britni & Lyndsey's excellent storytelling. Highly recommend this book for sports fans, feminist history fans, and sports business folk. There is something in here for just about everyone.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lance

    When Sid Friedman, a talent agent from Cleveland, thought about creating a women's football team to do barnstorming tours and make a few bucks in the process, little did he realize that he found women who not only wanted to play the game, but play hard and compete – to do the same things that make the men's version of the sport so popular. This led to the creation of the National Women's Football League (NWFL) that had a brief life in the 1970s but impacted many women. This book by Britni de la When Sid Friedman, a talent agent from Cleveland, thought about creating a women's football team to do barnstorming tours and make a few bucks in the process, little did he realize that he found women who not only wanted to play the game, but play hard and compete – to do the same things that make the men's version of the sport so popular. This led to the creation of the National Women's Football League (NWFL) that had a brief life in the 1970s but impacted many women. This book by Britni de la Cretaz tells about not only the league, but the stories of the players and their teams. Some of the teams featured in the book are the Detroit Demons, the Houston Herricanes and the Los Angeles Dandilions. But far and away the most successful NWFL team, both before and during the time of the league, was the Toledo Troopers. Their stories make for some of the best reading in the book, along with those about the best player on the team Linda Jefferson. Jefferson's story is first told early in the book and that sets the tone for what every woman wanted – to be recognized as legitimate players of a sport they loved. As for organizing these teams into the NWFL, that wasn't done by Friedman (who attempted to form a league with teams from the Ohio and Pennsylvania areas) but instead by several businessmen left mainly by Bob Mathews. Mathews had more foresight than Friedman in that he knew that he needed more than hype to sell the game – he needed organization, a schedule, fans, marketing, media coverage, financial backing and much more. Sadly, he and the other owners never really obtained that to what was needed and the league was out of business soon after the 1979 season. Reading about the teams, the structure of the league and what eventually led to its demise was very good and it is clear that de la Cretaz did excellent research on this aspect which makes up the bulk of the book. The only downfall to this reviewer is that when she adds in some of her opinions, it appears that she only uses facts that would support her viewpoint without the entire picture. The example I use is near the end when she opines that the NWFL and other women's leagues would succeed if the financial backers would not bail on them so soon after realizing that they will not be profitable immediately. That is not incorrect, but the example that she uses that this isn't the same case for men's team with the Pittsburgh Steelers is not completely accurate. Yes, the Steelers struggled for decades both on the field and in the front office, but it should be noted that Art Rooney did not build up his fortune elsewhere – he allegedly used money won betting on horses to buy the Steelers and they became his business. Including that information, depending on how she would use it, could make her case stronger. There are other aspects that may make some readers uncomfortable, such as the section on the stereotypes placed on female athletes (and her section on the background of some players in lesbian bars may make some readers buy into the stereotype even further) but these are necessary for a complete picture and story of these women who risked a lot to play a sport they loved for very little money. Any reader wishing to learn more about women's football must pick up a copy of this book. Football fans, including this reviewer, who have never heard of the NWFL will enjoy learning about this short-lived but fondly remembered league. I wish to thank Perseus Books for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mike Balsom

    Gail Dearie. Rose Low. Linda Jefferson. The Toledo Troopers. These all should be household names, alongside names such as Johnny Unitas, Roger Staubach, Mean Joe Greene and the 1970s-era Pittsburgh Steelers. So why aren't the members of the National Womens' Football League (NWFL) remembered by more people today? Maybe it's because there's never been a movie about it to do what "A League of Their Own" did for the AAGPBL. Mainstream media refused to cover the teams or the players, except for thos Gail Dearie. Rose Low. Linda Jefferson. The Toledo Troopers. These all should be household names, alongside names such as Johnny Unitas, Roger Staubach, Mean Joe Greene and the 1970s-era Pittsburgh Steelers. So why aren't the members of the National Womens' Football League (NWFL) remembered by more people today? Maybe it's because there's never been a movie about it to do what "A League of Their Own" did for the AAGPBL. Mainstream media refused to cover the teams or the players, except for those few times when articles were published that did little more than poke fun at women playing a "man's game". Did homophobia contribute to its downfall? A backwards, uninformed population often considered any women participating in a man's game to be a lesbian, and it seemed that US society wasn't ready to accept that in the 70s and early 80s. Britni de la Cretaz and Lyndsey D'Arcangelo do an excellent job of introducing us to the movers and shakers, including players, coaches, team owners and others who stood on a limb and tried to make women's football a success. This book is a great history lesson for all of us as we see female athletes struggling for equality in an arena geared toward men's sports. Will there ever be true gender parity in the sports world? One would like to think so, and if it does come about, the women who blazed the football trail need to be recognized.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    Hail Mary is a wonderful, eye-opening, and celebratory look at the heroes of the National Women's Football League of the 1970's and early 80's. de la Cretaz and D'Arcangelo introduce readers to players and coaches who believed in coast to coast league for women's football. At time when the world was wringing its hands at the change gradually ushered in by Title IX, the women of the NWFL went out and hit hard, finding transcendent meaning in the game's brutality, and its beauty. Meticulously rese Hail Mary is a wonderful, eye-opening, and celebratory look at the heroes of the National Women's Football League of the 1970's and early 80's. de la Cretaz and D'Arcangelo introduce readers to players and coaches who believed in coast to coast league for women's football. At time when the world was wringing its hands at the change gradually ushered in by Title IX, the women of the NWFL went out and hit hard, finding transcendent meaning in the game's brutality, and its beauty. Meticulously researched, the book presents scores of first-hand accounts, glimmering shades of an unearthed historical gem, as well as an in-depth exploration about why the heroes of the NWFL are not household names--and should be. For all the confetti-drenched glory and the locker room brotherhood mythology we reserve for male athletes, Hail Mary honors those women athletes who are equally deserving of the spotlight as champions. Written in an engaging and authentic journalistic style, Hail Mary invites readers into the enlightening conversation. If, as Anne Lamott says, our best writing reveals in an ethical light who we are, I feel that after having read de la Cretaz's and D'Arcangelo's forthright, generous, and genuine history, I've been shown an important dimension of who we as sports fans all are.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Roberts

    Calling all football and sports fans, this non fiction is for you! Hail Mary was well researched with so many stories and information about the women who played football in the 1970s/80s. I thought it was so interesting the different standards the author brought up about men's vs. women's sports that still continue to exist today. The media portrayal of the women's football teams described in the book was both disheartening and eye opening to read. But despite the lack of funding and many times Calling all football and sports fans, this non fiction is for you! Hail Mary was well researched with so many stories and information about the women who played football in the 1970s/80s. I thought it was so interesting the different standards the author brought up about men's vs. women's sports that still continue to exist today. The media portrayal of the women's football teams described in the book was both disheartening and eye opening to read. But despite the lack of funding and many times media/local support, the women who played on these teams really were out there for the love of the sport. This book made me want to watch and support more local women's sport teams. I enjoyed Hail Mary, however this book felt long to me. Although it was about different women and different teams at times it was hard to differentiate and they all started to run together in my mind. I wish the book would have focused on a couple of the teams and gone really in depth with them.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kristine

    Hail Mary by Britni de la Cretaz & Lyndsey D'Arcangelo is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late October. This book is split into six chronological parts that detail events before the league was created in 1974 and after it disbanded in 1988, and covers teams that were initially created as an attention-getting, risque farce before drawing in serious, tough, and hard-working women. The authors write of and conducts interviews with a generally good recall of games, players, crowd sizes, ongoing Hail Mary by Britni de la Cretaz & Lyndsey D'Arcangelo is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late October. This book is split into six chronological parts that detail events before the league was created in 1974 and after it disbanded in 1988, and covers teams that were initially created as an attention-getting, risque farce before drawing in serious, tough, and hard-working women. The authors write of and conducts interviews with a generally good recall of games, players, crowd sizes, ongoing events within the teams and league, and the early stereotypes of women needing to be protected and not engaging in strenuous physical activities. However, they wander around topics pretty actively, maybe even with high knees between tires that represent concepts, interviews, newspaper articles and other archive materials.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kit Wren

    This is a terribly fun and bracing story that I had no idea about. With exhaustive firsthand interviews and piecing together of spotty media accounts, often diagnosing and cutting through the condescension of contemporary accounts, this is the definitive account of professional women's football's brief boom in the 1970s, the lives it changed and the public who would have fallen in love if they had just been allowed to. It lays out a macro case for the ways women's sports aren't allowed to go thr This is a terribly fun and bracing story that I had no idea about. With exhaustive firsthand interviews and piecing together of spotty media accounts, often diagnosing and cutting through the condescension of contemporary accounts, this is the definitive account of professional women's football's brief boom in the 1970s, the lives it changed and the public who would have fallen in love if they had just been allowed to. It lays out a macro case for the ways women's sports aren't allowed to go through the growing pains that men's leagues go through; the constant folding of teams seems like a fiasco on its surface, but if you look in the early days of the NBA or NFL, you'll see dozens of teams in Providence, Staten Island, Portsmouth, or Sheboygan that barely lasted a year. The play-by-play is fun and crisp and the bigger narrative proves everything it sets out to.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    “Often the women athletes we choose to write onto the history books are the ones who are extraordinary or remarkable i some way, who have broken records or beaten odds; women have to be twice as good to even be considered for recognition. But they are all remarkable, simply because they existed at all. The women of the NWFL are worth remembering because they took the field in the first place, against all odds.” Hail Mary tells the definitive story of the National Womens Football League; stories t “Often the women athletes we choose to write onto the history books are the ones who are extraordinary or remarkable i some way, who have broken records or beaten odds; women have to be twice as good to even be considered for recognition. But they are all remarkable, simply because they existed at all. The women of the NWFL are worth remembering because they took the field in the first place, against all odds.” Hail Mary tells the definitive story of the National Womens Football League; stories that almost vanished or were purposely erased from football’s history. It’s a book where the majority of sports fans (myself included) didn’t even know existed. I’m so glad that I read this!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Stacey

    Wow! I really enjoyed stepping back through the history of this league and the stories of some of the women in it has to tell. It’s obvious a lot of research went into this book, but they admit they probably only scratched the surface and that there are many more accounts and stories that may just be lost. It was eye opening (but unsurprising) to hear about the toughness and determination of all these women and inspiring with the groundwork they laid. It’s unfortunate that many things hindered a Wow! I really enjoyed stepping back through the history of this league and the stories of some of the women in it has to tell. It’s obvious a lot of research went into this book, but they admit they probably only scratched the surface and that there are many more accounts and stories that may just be lost. It was eye opening (but unsurprising) to hear about the toughness and determination of all these women and inspiring with the groundwork they laid. It’s unfortunate that many things hindered and ultimately caused the downfall, but hopefully by bringing light to the story of the league we will be able to move ahead and learn from it!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    This book is an amazing read traversing the history of the National Women’s Football League. It covers not only the history of the league’s formation, but also individual players and several of the league’s teams including stories of rivalries, contested championships, and even all-out brawls. The tales are both inspiring and entertaining. I had no idea a league for women existed prior to current leagues, and now I’m itching for more! I listened to the audiobook version, which was a real treat I This book is an amazing read traversing the history of the National Women’s Football League. It covers not only the history of the league’s formation, but also individual players and several of the league’s teams including stories of rivalries, contested championships, and even all-out brawls. The tales are both inspiring and entertaining. I had no idea a league for women existed prior to current leagues, and now I’m itching for more! I listened to the audiobook version, which was a real treat I just couldn’t stop listening to.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brian Gervais

    I was very disappointed in this book. Poorly written and poorly edited. Chapter 6 “The venue held over 65,000 people. Even so, just 2842 people paid the three dollars to watch …that number of people wouldn’t have filled even 1% of the seats in the stadium,”. Ummmmm…pretty sure that 4,3%+ of the stadium. Pretty simple math! Examples of this throughout the book. Wanted to like it, wanted to read it, regret buying it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    I really enjoyed this book about the National Women's Football League. It's the stories of the women and the teams that make this book an enjoyable read. There's a bunch of repetition and I felt like certain sentences and topics were being repeated word for word throughout the book. But it's a fascinating history about the NWFL, the lives of the women and teams, and what could have been. I highly recommend reading this book. I really enjoyed this book about the National Women's Football League. It's the stories of the women and the teams that make this book an enjoyable read. There's a bunch of repetition and I felt like certain sentences and topics were being repeated word for word throughout the book. But it's a fascinating history about the NWFL, the lives of the women and teams, and what could have been. I highly recommend reading this book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    The level of research they put into this to preserve the history of the league is absurd. They are quoting from like small sw Ohio newspapers from the 50's and stuff like that. I'm a massive football fan who had never heard of this league prior to this book. Now I'm upset at the hall of Fame for not accepting and preserving memorabilia from the league and wondering why Linda Jefferson doesn't have a bust in Canton. The level of research they put into this to preserve the history of the league is absurd. They are quoting from like small sw Ohio newspapers from the 50's and stuff like that. I'm a massive football fan who had never heard of this league prior to this book. Now I'm upset at the hall of Fame for not accepting and preserving memorabilia from the league and wondering why Linda Jefferson doesn't have a bust in Canton.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Philip Meneses

    Fantastic look at women’s football, mostly centered on the National Women’s Football League in the 1970s. Especially interesting are the profiles of different players that played a game that was not usually accepted by society for women to play. Toledo Troopers and many of the other teams deserve to be remembered and have their information preserved by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. One of the best books I’ve read all year.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Heather F

    Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of this book. I loved learning about a piece of feminist/lgbt/sports history I did not know about. My one criticism is that de la Cretaz comes from the online confession/article world, and her writing reflects that.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jake

    A well-researched look at a piece of sports history that’s sadly underreported. It was great to get a peak into the lives of the players and learn about how they played with the tide of change in the States, yet only cared about playing. Both writers do a fantastic job bringing the league to life.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas Katers

    The authors brought the women's football players and teams of the past to life. Hail Mary is an impressive feat of journalism and historical research given the minimal (and often patronizing) coverage of the NWFL during its existence. Highly recommended! The authors brought the women's football players and teams of the past to life. Hail Mary is an impressive feat of journalism and historical research given the minimal (and often patronizing) coverage of the NWFL during its existence. Highly recommended!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    I learned so much reading this book. I had no idea professional women's football was even a thing! The book is very readable, even for those who know little to nothing about football. If you are interested in sports history, this is a great addition to a little-known aspect of it. I learned so much reading this book. I had no idea professional women's football was even a thing! The book is very readable, even for those who know little to nothing about football. If you are interested in sports history, this is a great addition to a little-known aspect of it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I really enjoyed this, but there was something sort of weird about the way it was organized -- it jumped all over the place between teams and time periods, and I think a strictly linear or a strictly team-by-team approach might have worked better.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    As a fan of women's sports I had no clue the NWFL existed. Many thanks to the authors for giving these athletes the care and attention they deserve. As a fan of women's sports I had no clue the NWFL existed. Many thanks to the authors for giving these athletes the care and attention they deserve.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Colin

    Absolutely fascinating book and story.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Mattmiller

    How did I not know anything about the NWFL?! So thankful for this book. Really enjoyed it!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    I was expecting a more in depth narrative. Back then and earlier record keeping was not a priority per se but enjoyed the read and commend the authors.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Eve

    This book is fucking funny.

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