The Philly Fan's Code

The 50 Toughest, Craziest, Most Legendary Philadelphia Athletes of the Last 50 Years

Michael Tanier
Book Cover

PB: $16.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-0599-9
Publication: Aug 11

Ebook: $16.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-0600-2
Publication: Aug 11

264 pages
5.5 x 8.25
16 halftones

An original and quirky take on Philadelphia legends and the meaning of “tough athlete”


Face it: Philadelphia athletes are often as tough as their fans are passionate. How else to explain the rabid appeal of the bone-crunching Broad Street Bullies? Chuck Bednarik was one of the looniest tunes in Philadelphia sports history, but fuggedabout him. In The Philly Fan's Code, New York Times sportswriter Mike Tanier provides fun and opinionated essays that evaluate the 50 greatest, toughest, and most eccentric legends of Philly sports since Concrete Charlie hung up his cleats.

Using his own "rubric" to calculate the impact of each athlete, Tanier ranks well-adjusted players like Mark Howe alongside both unpredictable athletes like Brad Lidge-who followed an almost perfect season with a 162-game catastrophe-and quirky ones, such as Wilt Chamberlain, who may be better known for bragging about his sexual conquests than for scoring 100 points in a game. And let's not forget our visitor from Planet Lovetron… Then there are the real wild cards-players like Terrell Owens, who does sit-ups in his driveway and whose impact-for better or worse-outlasted the few actual games he played for the Eagles. As for Tanier's choice for the No. 1 toughest, craziest, most legendary player, well, you'll have to read the book to see if you agree. Whether you do or don't, The Philly Fan's Code will provide hours of debates and memories of who our toughest sports heroes were-or weren't.


"A veritable cheesesteak between covers, Mike Tanier's The Philly Fan's Code is a book no self-respecting Philadelphia sports fan can be without."
Gregg Easterbrook, ESPN

"Honest, incisive, funny, and compulsively readable, The Philly Fan's Code is the perfect book for Philly sports fans. Mike Tanier offers a fresh take on age-old debates about the legacies of the city's most memorable and controversial athletes, inviting readers to reconsider the reputation and history of Philadelphia fans."
Tom McAllister, author of Bury Me in My Jersey: A Memoir of My Father, Football, and Philly

"Mike Tanier may have once booed me, but I have nothing but praise for his snappy little argument starter, The Philly Fan's Code . I’m honored to be included in this book—just not sure why I wasn’t ranked higher!"
Ron Jaworski

"(Tanier) has written a terrific book... (H)e's got his tongue so far up his cheek, you can see it sticking out his left ear. That just makes his list livelier, more kindling for a fiery debate... Let's cut to the chase. Tanier nails Bobby Clarke, Wilt Chamberlain and Charles Barkley dead-on. ...The book gets high grades for telling me things I didn't know before."
The Philadelphia Daily News

Table of Contents


1. The Answer in Theory, but Not in Practice
2. The Bully Who Made Us Believe
3. The Slugger Who Won Our Hearts, Eventually
4. The Man, and the Man Crush
5. The Showman We Could Not Boo. Or Could We?
6. The Babe Ruth of Backspin
7. The Haunted, Eternal Samurai
8. The Defense of the Minister
9. The Role Model for the Non-Role Models
10. He Called Us the F-Word
11. He Brooded Back at Us
12. The Idiot Man, Hallelujah
13. Better Than the Greatest, If Only Briefly
14. The Reluctant Enforcer
15. The Once and Future Captain
16. The Pan-Dimensional Catcher
17. He Left Us So He Could Stay with Us
18. The Baby Brother We Could Not Pick On. Yet.
19. The Haters’ Favorite
20. The Ultimate Something or Other

Intermission: Coaches and Executives

21. The Forever Flyer
22. The Man from Lovetron
23. He Taught Us to Win, and Laid Off the Action
24. The Origin of the Booed Species
25. The Other Fighter
26. The Man Who Spoiled Memories
27. The Slaphappy Workhorse
28. The Legend We Could Love
29. He Gave His Life for Philly Toughness
30. The Agony of the Feet
31. He Nailed the Good Ol’ Boy Act
32. He No Longer Takes That Fifth Day Off
33. The Spirit of ’64, the Year That Wasn’t
34. The Quarterback We Grew Up With
35. Point Guard for a Nation
36. Ameba, Enigma, Goaltender
37. The Thinking Man’s Slob
38, 39. The Lost Brothers
40. The Forgotten Hall of Famer
41. All He Had Was Four Little Words
42. He Was Too Tall to Disappear
43. The Wildest Thing We’d Ever Seen
44. The (Briefly) Perfect Reliever
45. The Man Who Got the Credit
46. The Defenseman in the Shadows
47. Backache, Headache, Heartache
48. The Greatest Mistake
49. The Bat Who Wouldn’t Leave
50. The Face of the Future


About the Author(s)

Mike Tanier is a senior writer at Football Outsiders and a regular contributor to The New York Times and