Pigskin:The Early Years of Pro Football (Google eBook)

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, Oct 28, 1996 - History - 256 pages
3 Reviews
If the National Football League is now a mammoth billion-dollar enterprise, it was certainly born into more humble circumstances. Indeed, it began in 1920 in an automobile showroom in Canton, Ohio, when a car dealer called together some owners of teams, mostly in the Midwest, to form a league. Unlike the lavish boardrooms in which NFL owners meet today, on this occasion the owners sat on the running boards of cars in the showroom and drank beer from buckets. A membership fee of $100 was set, but no one came up with any money. (As one of those present, George Halas, the legendary owner of the Chicago Bears, said, "I doubt that there was a hundred bucks in the room.") From such modest beginnings, pro football became far and away the most popular spectator sport in America. In Pigskin, Robert W. Peterson presents a lively and informative overview of the early years of pro football--from the late 1880s to the beginning of the television era. Peterson describes the colorful beginnings of the pro game and its outstanding teams (the Green Bay Packers, the New York Giants, the Chicago Bears, the Baltimore Colts), and the great games they played. Profiles of the most famous players of the era--including Pudge Heffelfinger (the first certifiable professional), Jim Thorpe, Red Grange, Bronko Nagurski, and Fritz Pollard (the NFL's first black star)--bring the history of the game to life. Peterson also takes us back to the roots of the pro game, showing how professionalism began when some stars for Yale, Harvard, and Princeton took money--under the table, of course--for their services to alma mater. By 1895, the money makers--still unacknowledged--had moved to amateur athletic associations in western Pennsylvania and subsequently into Ohio. After the NFL formed in 1920, pro football's popularity grew gradually but steadily. It burst into national prominence with the Bears-Redskins championship game of 1940. As one sportswriter put it: "The weather was perfect. So were the Bears." The final score was 73-0. Peterson shows how, after World War II, the newly-created All America Football Conference challenged the NFL. Though dominated by a gritty Cleveland team, the AAFC was never viewed by NFL teams as much of a threat. That is, not until 1950 when the two leagues merged, bringing about the Cleveland Browns-Philadelphia Eagles game in which the Browns buried the Eagles 35-10. An elegy to a time when, for many players, the game was at least as important as the money it brought them (which wasn't much), Pigskin takes readers up to the 1958 championship game when the Baltimore Colts beat the New York Giants in overtime. By that time, the great popularity of the game had moved from newspapers and radio to television, and pro football had finally arrived as a major sport.
  

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Review: Pigskin: The Early Years of Pro Football

User Review  - Edward Lengel - Goodreads

Interesting subject, but wretched writing (something akin to a high school term paper) made this one difficult to finish. Amazingly, no readable, comprehensive history of the birth of the NFL has ever been written. Read full review

Review: Pigskin: The Early Years of Pro Football

User Review  - Jeffrey Williams - Goodreads

Wonderful book if you want to get a glimpse into the history of professional football. My one criticism is that he discusses formations that were used back then but never really tells us what they ... Read full review

Contents

1 Before the Television Bonanza
3
2 In the Beginning
13
3 The Cradle of Professionalism
23
4 The Coming of Jim Thorpe
45
5 The Birth and Infancy of the NFL
67
6 Glimmers of Glory
85
7 The Pro Style Is Born
109
8 A Debacle and the Wartime Blues
127
9 The Postwar War
147
10 Black Players and Blackballs
169
11 The Television Era Begins
191
12 Extra Points
205
Notes on Sources
213
Index
217
Copyright

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The 1940s
Robert Sickels
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