Thursday, January 31, 2008

National special highlights Maroons

The story of the Pottsville Maroons finally reached a national audience Wednesday night. Read the Republican review of the 7 1/2 minute special that aired on HBO's "Inside the NFL" on Wednesday night.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Dave Fleming talks to the Coal Region Voice

Short Q and A with Dave Fleming author of "Breaker Boys: The NFL's Greatest Team and the Stolen 1925 Championship".

1.) Since the book's release in October, what has been the biggest surprise since that time? The letter received from President Bush?


I was shocked and thrilled by the letter from the president but the biggest surprise has been the level of emotion and commitment the coal region has for the Maroons. I knew people were interested in the story and were connected to the team but I had no idea just how strong a symbol the team has become for the region. Not just the success of the team but, I think, the lack of recognition and respect for the Maroons is a metaphor for the entire region. I was shocked at how many people just broke down trying to explain what the Maroons meant to them. To be even a small part of this team, this region and this fight is a great honor.

2.) Before beginning your research on the book, what are some of the things that surprised you about Pottsville and the Anthracite Region.

I alluded to this a bit in No. 1 but, I confess, I didn't have the proper respect for coal mining, the important roll it played in the development of the world and the men who fueled the world one fistful of coal at a time. The best advice I got before sitting down to write the book was to go down into a mine to get perspective on these men and this region and I think the first 75 pages of the book truly shows how much I was moved by that experience. After that the town and the times really became characters in the book.

3.) Do you think the Anthracite Region had a bigger part in shaping the NFL than just the Maroon's contribution?

The last stat I read said that something like 23 NFL Hall of Famers were from Pennsylvania and that five players who have played in the Super Bowl have connections to Pottsville. It's not a coincidence that this proud, rugged region has always been a go-to spot for college football recruiters. Pennsylvania is the birthplace of pro football and I know western PA has gotten a lot of attention and credit but the Maroons were first--and probably best. You only need to attend a PAHS football game to understand how special football is in this region. (I've been to two and the Tide is 2-0 in those games, by the way.)
4.) You will be attending the Super Bowl between the Giants and Patriots. What was the first Super Bowl that you attended?

Actually, it was 12 years ago at the last Super Bowl in Phoenix. I watched a fan bury himself in horse manure to try and win Super Bowl tickets and I haven't found a better metaphor, yet, for the unbelievable hype of the game.

5.) Has there been any big changes from when you first attended?

It's funny, when I first started people were desperate for even a close game. I remember sitting in the Georgia Dome watching the final minutes of the Titans-Rams unfold and just watching with my mouth wide open at the great finish. There is so much hype leading up to the game (to which I certainly contribute) and there's no worse feeling after all that to sit through a boring blowout. The other really big change is that when I switched from Sports Illustrated to ESPN I started getting invited to the Playboy Super Bowl Party. Talk about a life changing event!

6.) Why have the last few Super Bowl's been the most competitive?

The contrasting economic forces of free agency and the salary cap have created a level of parity in the NFL that is reflected in the Super Bowl. (Wow, that answer sounded like the debate scene from Old School when Will Ferrell blacks out for a second. Sorry.)

7.) If you could be NFL Commissioner for one day, what would change?

After I delivered the 1925 NFL championship trophy to City Hall in Pottsville, had lunch with Jim Brown and convinced the Arizona Cardinals to hire Matt Millen as their lifetime GM, I would look into shrinking the schedule and expanding team rosters. Following the league up close I'm disturbed by the amount of injuries in the league--not just the crippling, long-term effect it has on players but the way it's watering down the product--you don't want a league where injuries (and a lack of talent depth) becomes more important than skill and preparation.

8.) Thank you very much for taking the time for the Q and A.

My pleasure. The fact that Breaker Boys has been out for four months and people are still talking about the book, the team and the cause is really a tribute to the grass roots efforts of so many Maroons fans and bloggers like yourself who have tirelessly spread the word. Every day I hear from someone who knows someone who knows someone from Schuylkill County--I swear. It's something I call Maroons Magic. Ya know, I really think we've turned a very, very important corner in the fight. I have had to fight for coverage of the team and the book for a long time and this past week, without any prompting, papers in Chicago, Allentown and Lebanon called wanting to do stories, the book will be in two straight issues of ESPN The Magazine, I just did a segment on Comcast Network and HBO is also putting something together. All of your efforts are paying off and I am deeply indebted to all Maroons fans.

HBO was in Pottsville to interview Kevin Keating and Jack Dolbin for an upcoming NFL special to air on January 30th.

The interview is crossposted at the Coal Region Voice Blog.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

ESPN Magazine and the Pottsville Maroons

It was reported in the Pottsville Republican Herald that ESPN the Magazine will be doing a story on the Maroons.

In doing some more digging in the Maroons, Cardinals and the Bidwell family. I found this bit of information. The Cardinals got their nickname from borrowed uniforms from the University of Chicago who incidentally were nicknamed the Maroons.

This is crossposted at the Coal Region Voice.