"a Hail Mary of a chance"

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Nov 11 05:31:04 UTC 2011

Laurence Horn wrote
> "I said they had to get somewhere around here in order to have a Hail Mary of a chance.  They've got it at midfield."
> --announcer on NFL Network describing San Diego Chargers' desperate attempt to get in position to win the game (presumably by hurling a "Hail Mary" pass, discussed in earlier threads on the list)
> I know Arnold has written up many posts on the "X ADJ of a N" construction (e.g. "How incompetent of a politician"), but are there any examples in the archive along the lines of "a Hail Mary of a chance", meaning something like "a chance for a Hail Mary"?

Perhaps the phrase "a Hail Mary of a chance" may also by connected to
"a prayer of a chance" since a Hail Mary is a prayer in addition to
being a type of football pass in more recent days.

Here is a humorous elaboration of the phrase (unverifed data from Google Books).

Recovery: a novel; Delusions, etc. of John Berryman : poems
John Berryman - 1974 - 323 pages - Snippet view

You've got to get your mind off your parents and work on a Programme
that will give you, after five treatments isn't it, here and in
Illinois and Minnesota, a ghost of a Chinese prayer of a chance to
stay dry long enough to be of some real help to your miserable

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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