Front cover

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Copyright page

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p. iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Foreword

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pp. vii-viii

As a sports columnist, I often write about philosophy. Why, just the other day I was discussing philosophical theories with Kansas City Chiefs football coach and NFL Nietzsche Herman Edwards. “My philosophy,” Edwards said, “is that you’ve got to hit the quarterback.” Among moral philosophers, this quote may not rank with “Man is the cruelest animal.” But couldn’t you argue that both say the same thing? This is the...

Acknowledgments

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p. ix

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Introduction

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pp. 1-2

One event dominates the consciousness of America every year in early February. The two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl are filled with interviews, stories of football greatness, predictions, and, unfortunately, the occasional scandal. On Super Bowl Sunday fans gather around television sets at the local bar or in their living room to watch two teams play...

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Vince Lombardi and the Philosophy of Winning

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pp. 5-17

Vince Lombardi was born on June 11, 1913, in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York. His father, Enrico (“Harry”), was born in Italy. His mother, Matilda Izzo, was born in Sheepshead Bay to Italian immigrants. Enrico and his brother operated a wholesale meat store.1 Vince grew up under two overpowering, unconquerable forces: l’ordine della famiglia, ...

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On Fumbling the Ball

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pp. 18-30

On January 6, 2007, the Dallas Cowboys appeared on the verge of defeating the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks in a National Football League wild-card playoff game.1 A victory by Dallas would solidify claims that the Cowboys, led by veteran coach Bill Parcells and Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo, were once again an NFL team to be reckoned with. ...

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Football and Aristotle's Philosophy of Friendship

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pp. 31-40

After his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990, running back Franco Harris explained one of his team’s secrets to winning four NFL championship rings during the powerful reign of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s. “Halfway through the decade,” he said with a smile, “we realized that we had a great team and that we could do great things.” So how did they bring that potential to reality? “We said to...

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Inside the Helmet

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pp. 41-52

One of the great ironies of the sports world is that football players are believed to be more brawny than brainy—even though football is much more a head game than any other major team sport. You may be thinking, “Yeah, right, ‘head game,’ as in ‘heads colliding with heads,’ resulting in more concussions per capita than in baseball, basketball, or soccer . . . combined.” Fair enough. Perhaps the only sport that tops football in...

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The Beauty of Football

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pp. 55-66

Ask most people for an example of something beautiful and they will respond by naming flowers, a natural landscape, a sunset, a child’s eyes, maybe a favorite painting or piece of music, or a specific woman. What they will probably not respond with is football. Dictionary and colloquial definitions of beauty cluster around its function as a source of pleasure to our senses: beauty is what pleases us. Given this definition, it...

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Virtue and Violence

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pp. 67-79

We live in a violent culture. Just watch the news and you’ll see that this is true. Some people argue that our violent culture is reflected in our love of violent sports, especially football. Is this true? There is no doubt that football is a “savage ballet,” involving a unique combination of beautiful athleticism and dangerous violence.1 For instance, according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport...

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What's So Bad about Performance-Enhancing Drugs?

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pp. 80-89

The use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) in sports has sparked serious ethical debate.1 Although this book is about philosophy and football, the arguments discussed in this chapter apply to every sport. A recent investigation revealed that six players on the Carolina Panthers 2004 Super Bowl team were filling prescriptions for steroids. Barry Bonds, the former San Francisco Giants’ slugger and Golden Glove Award...

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The True Nature of Cheating

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pp. 90-100

It is the game of the century. Two powerhouse college football programs, both undefeated the entire year, will meet in the BCS Championship game. Each year, the Bowl Championship Series has matched two excellent teams in the season’s final game, but never has the game brought together two more accomplished and successful teams with two such different philosophies. ...

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"They Don't Pay Nobody to be Humble!"

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pp. 101-114

November 18, 2003, was a turning point in professional American football—perhaps in professional sport. Tampa Bay Buccaneer wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson was officially deactivated. Johnson had stated openly to his teammates during the year that he did not plan to be with the team at the end of the season. He felt that he was being underutilized and that the team was suffering because of that. There were many instances, in...

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Crowning a True Champion

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pp. 117-127

The 2007 Fiesta Bowl was arguably one of the greatest college football games ever played. Incredibly, Boise State and Oklahoma combined to score twenty-two points in the last 1:26 of the fourth quarter. With the ball at midfield, fourth and 18, Boise State ran a hook-and-ladder play. Drisan James caught Jared Zabransky’s pass at the 35-yard line and then pitched the ball to teammate Jerard Rabb, who took it into the end zone. ...

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Heroes of the Coliseum

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pp. 128-140

The sun shines brightly over the Coliseum, illuminating masses of rowdy spectators, who strain to catch glimpses of their favorites. The air is thick with excitement just moments before the event. Music plays and a colorful procession of costumed performers draws the attention of the crowd, but it is all just a prelude to the real contest everyone came to see. Athletes, finely trained and ritually armored for competition, wait nervously...

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A True MVP

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pp. 141-153

One area where player value is important is the award for the most valuable player, since the award compares players on the basis of their value. In the NFL, the Associated Press selects the MVP. A nationwide panel of sportswriters and broadcasters who cover the NFL choose the winner. There are other MVP awards, but this one is the most widely recognized and the most prestigious award given to an individual player. ...

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Upon Further Review

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pp. 154-164

In Super Bowl XL, Ben Roethlisberger scored a dramatic one-yard touchdown just before halftime. On that play, it was initially ruled that Roethlisberger carried the ball into the end zone, and that call was upheld upon review. Many people, myself included, thought it was very clear upon review that the ball did not break the plane of the goal line, and therefore the run should not have been ruled a touchdown. But it was, and the...

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Does the Salary Cap Make the NFL a Fairer League?

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pp. 165-180

One of the things that fans love about professional football in America is the fact that the National Football League is such a fair league. By “fair,” I mean each team seems to have a legitimate chance to win each year. No team is forever out of the running before each season starts—no matter how poorly that team performed the year before. And no team is so completely lacking in talent that it has no chance to win any given game. This...

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Is the Gridiron Holy Ground?

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pp. 183-195

It is Odessa, Texas, and the kickoff between the Odessa Permian Panthers and the Midland Lee Rebels swiftly approaches. “Outside the Midland High band, dressed in its purple and gold costumes, play[s] the national anthem. An announcer’s voice then [comes] over the public address system, asking the sell out crowd of eleven thousand to rise for the prayer, which everyone eagerly [does].”1 This illustrates the ceremonial triad of...

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Touchdowns, Time, and Truth

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pp. 196-208

Consider the truthmaker theory, which claims that “for every truth there is a truthmaker” (Fox 1987, 189). In some cases truthmakers are individuals. Peyton Manning is the truthmaker for the claim that Peyton Manning exists. In other cases, truthmakers are events, like falling on a football in the end zone. The primary question of this essay is, What are the truthmakers for touchdown truths, that is, truths about touchdowns? ...

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Feel the Big Mo'

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pp. 209-218

In the 1993 AFC wild-card game, the Buffalo Bills mounted the greatest comeback in NFL history, posting a 41–38 win over the Houston Oilers after trailing by thirty-two points just a few minutes into the third quarter. The Oilers had been up 28–3 in the first half, and the Bills outscored them 35–3 after the last Oilers touchdown early in the third quarter to pull out the victory. A one-yard run for a Buffalo touchdown followed by...

Contributors

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pp. 219-222

Index

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pp. 223-226