Born and raised in Eagles country, Tom McAllister learns from his father and brother the rules of being a football fan. Spending Sundays in the infamous 700 level of Veterans Stadium, or sitting in front of the TV with his father in a nearby recliner, Tom sees both the ugly and beautiful sides of Philadelphia football. Like all true Philadelphians, he connects with the players. From icons Chuck Bednarik and Steve Van Buren to modern-day greats Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb, and Brian Dawkins and controversial stars such as Terrell Owens, the Eagles players become a part of McAllister’s life. Watching them every Sunday, he tries to develop his own identity as a fan. Torn between his father’s calm and levelheaded fandom and the rowdy, profane, and violent crowds of Philadelphia legend, Tom struggles to achieve balance.
As a rabid Eagles fan, Tom McAllister experiences plenty of defeats and disappointments, but his biggest challenge is coping with the premature loss of his father to cancer. In Bury Me in My Jersey, McAllister explores the connection between his dedication to the Eagles and the death of his father. He details the intense bonds—between fathers and sons, among friends, and even between a city and its football team—and chronicles the joys and sorrows, victories and failures, of a lifetime of sports obsession.
Any fan can relate: Tom drinks to excess, spends countless hours every week posting to an online Eagles message board, and spies on players in the fruit aisle of the supermarket. Without the example of his father to guide him, Tom often finds himself stumbling off track. But it is his girlfriend and eventual wife, LauraBeth, who keeps him grounded as he matures into adulthood.
A touching, funny, beautifully crafted memoir, Bury Me in My Jersey is not only a marvelous tribute to a father, a way of life, and a team and its devoted followers but also a love letter to the city of Philadelphia.
More than a family memoir, this debut work by McAllister, a lecturer in the English department at Temple University, reads like a feverish coming-of-age tale of a gridiron groupie known as a Philly fanatic, complete with endearing childhood and college flashbacks. Many devotees of the Philadelphia Eagles football team will recognize themselves in McAllister, starting with the author and his sport-obsessed father sitting in their game-day uniforms during the telecasts, comparing notes on the players and contests, and enjoying the stadium melees that caused management to install holding cells in the ball park. Although the author questions how much of his character he owes to his family or the zeal of the city, he writes that Philly fans are the greatest in the NFL, even if they sometimes get crazy. This is great reading for all who have shared a father-son kinship, football zanies, and the raw sporting soul of Philly.
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Family. Friends. Football.
The Philly native, Tom McAllister tells the tale of how football can connect us through the generations. His sudden tonal shifts from talking of football to speaking of the loss of his father provide for us what only a book about football can. He walks through the highs and lows of his fandom, and his life. He does not shy away from exposing some of the most regrettable moments in his life in a way that makes us reflect on our own faults. From the first moments with his dad to the last this book reminds us all of what is really important. Family. Friends. Football.