BOOK REVIEW: Hail Mary: The Rise and Fall of the National Women’s Football League

Review: Vicky, Founder of the FCN

As a Brit, American Football was not a natural sport for me to follow. I wasn’t able to watch it as a kid, there were no opportunities to play and there was almost no mention of it in the regular British sports pages.

So when I launched the FCN and had the incredible honour of interviewing coaches such as Jennifer King and Lori Locust, I decided that now was the time for me learn all I could about American Football. I dove head first into the NFL archives, watching legendary players such as Jerry Rice, Walter Payton and Joe Montana on Youtube. I read books about the history of the sport such as The League by John Eisenberg, and many many biographies and autobiographies of coaches and players including Bruce Arians, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady (any other recommendations let me know!). I was officially hooked and in honour of Coach Lori Locust, began following the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when she joined them as one of the first full time female assistant coaches in 2019.

Ashamedly however, I never once considered there might have been a history to women competing in the sport, until I saw a twitter post by Lyndsey D’Arcangelo revealing the publication of her new book (alongside co-author Britni de La Cretaz) Hail Mary: The Rise and Fall of the National Women’s Football League.

I was instantly intrigued, and upon the books arrival I wasted no time reading it page for page within a matter of days – and loved it!

The book is a fascinating deep dive into the lives and stories of some of the women who played American football in the 20th century. Mentions of the origins of women’s American Football starting in 1896 all the way up to and beyond the 1970’s, the politics surrounding the various attempts to set up leagues and teams, and the wonderful memories the players shared of their times getting battered and bruised.

I really enjoyed the stories of the dominance of the Toledo Troopers between 1971 – 1979, society’s constant doubt in the capabilities of women to play the sport and their utter determination to show the world what they were made of.

I would recommend this book to any American Football fan, and anyone interested in the journey women have taken into the world of sport. A fun, interesting and emotional read into the lives of those who came before us – and many still to this day who are playing and fighting for the acknowledgment women’s football deserves.