Fifth Quarter

The Scrimmage of a Football Coach's Daughter

Publisher: Random House
George Allen was a top-ranked NFL coach throughout the sixties and seventies, coaching in turn the Chicago Bears, the Los Angeles Rams, and the Washington Redskins. Raised in a home dominated by her three football-obsessed older brothers and her father's relentless schedule, Jennifer Allen came of age in a cauldron of testosterone and win-at-all-costs mentality.

Buffeted by the coach's tumultuous firings and hirings, the Allen family was periodically propelled to new teams in new cities. And while her French-Tunisian mother attempted to teach Jennifer proper feminine etiquette, the author dreamed of being the first female quarterback in the NFL. But as she grew up, she yearned mostly to be someone her father would notice. In a macho world where only foot-ball mattered, what could she strive for? Who could she become?

Allen has written a poignant memoir of the father she tried so hard to know, about a family life that was willfully sacrificed to his endless fanatical pursuit of the Super Bowl. What emerges is a fascinating and singular behind-the-scenes look at professional football, and a memorable, bittersweet portrait of a father and his daughter, written in a fresh and perceptive voice.

From the Hardcover edition.


Dinner, New Year's Eve, 1968
Dad sat at the dinner table, sipping his milk. We all watched him sip his milk, his first and only drink of choice. Then he set his glass down on the table where my three older brothers and I sat, while Mom scowled as she stirred a pot of boiling spaghetti on the kitchen stove.
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Advance praise for Fifth Quarter

"Fifth Quarter is the best book about football I've ever read--and Jennifer Allen never played a down in her life. But she was born to be a writer, she grew up around some of the greatest names in the NFL, and her father happened to be one of  the greatest coaches in history. What a family this woman hails from!"                                                                                                        
--Pat Conroy

"What an extraordinary story! Within a terrifying, pathetic, and sometimes--      inevitably--hilarious tale of professional football and her father's life as a coach, Jennifer Allen shows everything that's wrong--and right--about 'sports-minded' American men."                                                            
--Carolyn See

From the Hardcover edition.