Book Cover for Hail Mary

Hail Mary

The Rise and Fall of the National Women’s Football League

The little-known, fascinating story of the rise and fall of the National Women’s Football League, told through the players whose spirit, rivalries, and tenacity carried the league and furthered the legacy of women in sports.

Book Description

The players of the NWFL came from all ethnic and racial backgrounds, largely from working-class homes. They were gay and straight, they were factory workers and mothers, they were beauticians and truck drivers. They overcame sexism, injuries, exhaustion, stereotypes, harassment, skeptics,  and their own lack of training to become the first women’s pro football league in U.S. history. 

NWFL players resting

The league itself was a Hail Mary pass: a longshot, something with a high likelihood of failure. It’s the pass you take because why the hell not, because the ball is in your hands, and if you don’t do it, the chance for success goes from slim to none. The Hail Mary that was the NWFL may not have been a completed pass, but for a while, as it sailed through the air towards its receiver, it looked like it had a shot.

“The NWFL’s imprint on the game of football is indisputable.”

Tony Reali,
host of ESPN’s Around the Horn

“Hail Mary is a glorious and galvanizing chronicle celebrating no-longer-forgotten gridiron greats.”

Oprah Daily

Reading Hail Mary within a book group or classroom? Download our PDF with discussion questions:

NWFL Player with jersey number 30
NWFL players
NWFL football player throwing
NWFL runner avoiding a tackle from a defender
Play in progress in dark photo of NWFL

Press and Articles about Hail Mary

“The authors bring these women – and their teams, and the struggles they’ve faced, and the joys they felt – to life.”


“In this vivid account, they give us a much needed record of the women who helped pave the way so we could all exist today.”

Layshia Clarendon
WNBA Player, Minnesota Lynx

“De la Cretaz and D’Arcangelo graciously and painstakingly piece together the story of a rarely remembered league and the women whose love of football made the unlikely possible.”

Sarah Spain
host of ESPN’s Spain & Company

“Educational, entertaining, and uplifting.”

Shea Serrano
New York Times bestselling author