Four Days in the Life of Texas Football
Photos by Ron Jenkins
Genre: Texas Sports / Football / Photography
Publisher: Lone Star Books
Date of Publication: August 26, 2016
Number of Pages: 240
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You know what they say: Sunday in Texas belongs to God and football; not necessarily in that order. But game time now stretches well beyond Sunday, and Texas football is a phenomenon even bigger than the Lone Star State.
Over a magical four-day period in 2015, both of Texas’s NFL teams played at home on different days, a major high school rivalry played out on Friday night in West Texas, and a fierce regional rivalry came to the Cotton Bowl on Saturday afternoon.
In this first-of-its-kind project, veteran sports journalist and photographer Mac Engel and Ron Jenkins captured it all, and then some: from an illicit tour of the sealed Astrodome, to the locker room at Houston’s Yates school, to the tailgate at the Texans game, to sidelines at Odessa Permian (of Friday Night Lights fame), to the vaunted heights of the guest suite at Cowboys Stadium, bringing to life an amazing cast of characters and scenes. What they find isn’t all glitz and glory – but it’s all riveting, and it’s all essential info for any football fan.
LSLL: Mac, LSLL showcases Texas books and authors, and we have found that Fort Worth seems to be an incubator for authors — like Jeff Guinn, Julia Heaberlin, Sandra Brown, Gary Cartwright, Dan Jenkins, Bud Shrake, Larry L. King, and we could go on and on. As someone who has spent the greater quarter of a century in and around Fort Worth–and the Fort Worth publishing scene, what do think it is that makes the city such fertile ground for writers?
MAC: I think it’s ambition combined with access to a lot of activity, and a lot of good people. Bud, Dan, and Sandra — all of the people you mentioned — are special people who are talented and were found. It should be noted that I don’t belong in any sentence with those people other than [that] I speak English and live in Fort Worth.
LSLL: How has publishing changed since you both started in the business? What role does social media now play for you as authors and journalists?
MAC: Oh, God — this could be a thesis. Night and day. It’s made it quick, fast, rapid, and just reduced our attention spans. We have the time, but when there are eighteen million other things readily available and coming at you, to grab your attention for an extended period is just not easy.
RON: The world has changed so very much from I began shooting sports for the University Daily, the student newspaper at Texas Tech in the ’80s. The ability to promote a project like this on social media is pretty wild. The response has been overwhelming and the reviews have been really flattering.
LSLL: Another question for you, Mac. Why do you think football dominates Texas culture?
MAC: History and tradition, and I don’t think you can dismiss success, either. Back when football was beginning — go to the ’30s — the college teams were nationally renowned names. Texas, A&M, TCU, SMU, Rice, etc. Then the Cowboys were invented and as TV was formed and games were televised, the Cowboys were good. It just bred more and more recognition, interest and youth involvement. Then it became an identity for the state, and the players.
LSLL: So, for readers whose appetites you’ve whetted, how would you describe Pigskin Rapture in your own words?
MAC: For me, it succeeds in encapsulating the cultural importance of the game to Texans. Often we are flooded with hype and hyperbole about something and it seldom meets the verbiage, but you really can’t over state the importance of football to Texans and its place in the subconscious of Texans.
RON: Pigskin Rapture: The ultimate Texas football long weekend road trip. With glorious words and dynamic images that fans of Texas football really should not miss. It’s a one-of-a-kind look at the Lone Star state, its people and its favorite sport, football.
LSLL: Mac and Ron: What’s next for you?
RON: Up next for me will be covering the MLB post-season, including hopefully the Texas Rangers in the World Series along with more football, including college and the NFL. I’ll be shooting primarily for Getty Images and the Associated Press.
MAC: Sleep, I hope. I wrote two books last year and that’s a lot. I am sure I will try another one soon, but not writing a book right now is welcome.
This interview first appeared on Lone Star Literary Life and Mac & Ron were interviewed by Kay Ellington. You can see the full interview here.
Mac Engel is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Since 1998, he has covered the Texas Rangers, Dallas Stars, and Dallas Cowboys as well as colleges, high schools, and the Olympics. His Big Mac Blog was named the best blog in Texas by the Associated Press in 2012.
Fort Worth/Dallas–based contract photographer Ron Jenkins specializes in sports, covering the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, and Dallas Mavericks as well as NCAA, high school, and everything in between. His photos have been published all over the world, including in French sports magazine L’Equipe, premier German magazine Stern, and the USA’s Sports Illustrated.
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October 24 – November 2, 2016
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