It has been brought to our attention that, as much as people might like our Why Your Hometown Columnist Sucks feature, sometimes it's nice to point out good sportswriting. We agree; we're very friendly people and love great sportswriting as much, if not more, than anyone. Henceforth, we introduce our Sports Authors With Pure Hearts segment, which will feature interviews with sportswriters who have written books that we think are worthy of the all-powerful Deadspin stamp. Think of us like the Oprah of the sportswriting world, only with larger breasts. (If you'd like to nominate a book for this feature, just let us know.
Today's first recipient of this "honor" is Jere Longman, reporter for The New York Times and author of If Football's A Religion, Then Why Don't We Have A Prayer, a hilarious and strangely sad look at the beleaguered and perpetually angry fans of the Philadelphia Eagles. With the Eagles at their lowest point in nearly seven years, we thought this was as good a time as any to check in.
Interview with Longman after the jump. And see? We love!
Deadspin: Your book is almost entirely sourced from Eagles fans, rather than their players, a technique which is much more fun, because players rarely publicly shotgun beer. What's the mood among those fans today, now that the Eagles seem doomed?
Longman: In general, it's trepidation: Disaster is here. There
s a pattern in Philadelphia sports, and we're in the "disaster" point. What you'll see now is the Eagles win a couple of games in a row; disaster never comes when they're expecting it, only when they
re invested in the team again. People will start rooting again and sticking their necks out for their team, and as soon as they hope, their necks will get chopped off. That
s always what happens in Philadelphia.
Deadspin: Eagles fans are always saying they'e so tortured, but, you know, we
re Arizona Cardinals fans, and we look at the Eagles and say, "Jeez, at least you occasionally win. You got something."
Longman: Yeah, I have a friend of mine in Buffalo who says the same thing. Part of the pain is that the Eagles are good enough to give you hope. That always makes the pain greater. As soon as you think this will be the year, the guillotine comes down.
Deadspin: Is there a sense now that this is the end not only of this year, but the end of a run almost?
Longman: I thought at the beginning of this year that this was a crossroads season. If they don't make the playoffs this year, it really could be the end. They're getting old and they're getting vulnerable. They're certainly at one of their many lows with fans right now.
Deadspin: Terrell Owens makes our brain bleed. What's Eagles Nation think of him now?
Longman: Well, people recognized that he was not the type of player who was going to be universally beloved in Philadelphia, but if he was going to put them over the top, that would have been fine. But like another journalist said last year, if the Eagles would have won the Super Bowl last year, Owens would have been the greatest sports hero in Philadelphia sports history. In Philadelphia, we don
t want just heroes; we want bloody heroes. He would have been perfect.
And honestly, I think there
s a lot more support for him in the city than people realize. More and more people are realizing that professional sports is not a morality play, and instead whether or not you win.
Deadspin: Why are Philly fans so mean?
Longman: Philadelphia is not as blue-collar as it once was, or as it likes to see it is. Football is the sport that most closely relates to that feeling of being an underdog; it's the mirror in which the city sees its reflection. It's dirty and nasty and focuses only on winning. That