Pigskin: The Early Years of Pro Football / Edition 1

Hardcover (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $1.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 97%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (11) from $1.99   
  • New (4) from $70.00   
  • Used (7) from $1.99   


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. He describes the colorful beginnings of the pro game and profiles some of the most famous players.

After the NFL formed in 1920, pro football's popularity grew gradually but steadily. It burst into national prominence with the Chicago Bears-Washington 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, which never viewed the new teams as much of a threat. That is, not until 1950 when the two leagues merged. In the first game of the 1950 season, the Cleveland Browns, winner of all four AAFC titles, buried the 1949 NFL champion Philadelphia 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, Pigskin takes readers up to the 1958 championship game when the Baltimore Colts beat the New York Giants in overtime. An estimated thirty million people saw the game on their grainy, black-and-white television screens and many of them became instant fans. Pro football had arrived as a major sport.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Veteran magazine writer and author of two previous books on sports history, Only the Ball Was White and Cages to Jump Shots: Pro Basketball's Early Years, Peterson weaves oral history, analysis and anecdote into a play-by-play history of the game from 1920 to the 1958 championship contest between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants. In those four decades, the old power game gradually changed into one of strategy and skill. It was a transformation that greatly increased football's appeal as a spectator sport, until, as the 1958 game showed, it became inextricably bound up with the new medium of television. Improvements in the game included the advent of forward passing, the change in the shape of the ball in 1933 (the new form, as Peterson points out, is "a passer-friendly ball, but it ended the drop-kick era because the sharper point caused an erratic rebound from the ground") and the institution of the T-formation: "The overall purpose of the T-formation with man in motion was to emphasize speed and deception rather than power." According to Peterson, "During its first forty-odd years, professional football was the raggedy step-child of the glamorous college game," but the NFL started to come into its own in the late '20s and early '30s with the competent and likable New York Giants and the Notre Dame All-Stars, the latter coached by the famed Knute Rockne. Peterson highlights the careers of pivotal individuals of the early pro game such as Chicago Bears coach and owner George Halas and former Olympian and first president of the American Football Association (which would, in 1922, change its name to the NFL), Jim Thorpe. Also mentioned are John V. McNally (aka John Blood), Bulldog Turner and Paul Brown, the great first coach of the eponymous Cleveland Browns. For the genuine football aficionado interested in such esoteric particulars as the origins of the draw play, or for the curious bystander intrigued with the seemingly elusive intricacies of the sport, Pigskin is an engaging and detailed chronicle. (Dec.)
School Library Journal
YABased on lively oral histories drawn from individuals who coached or played in the early years of professional football, this narrative is vibrant and engaging. Peterson did extensive research and diligently backed it up with primary sources from newspapers as well as these personal interviews. The account covers the game's humble beginnings in 1889 when college players in the Ivy League were paid for playing football and given preferential treatment. From that point, it continues the story up to the 1958 championship game between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants. Peterson discusses the formation of the NFL in 1920 and the many trials endured along the way over the subsequent 38 years. He includes some of the sport's most famous personalities such as Jim Thorpe, Red Grange, Sammy Baugh, and George Halas. The author also delves into the important contributions blacks made in the early days of "pigskin" combat. One of the most absorbing chapters is about football in America during the challenging years of World War II. The center section of black-and-white photos adds significantly to the book's appeal. An excellent bibliography and a substantial index are appended. A worthy addition to the sports section of any YA collection.Peggy Mooney, Pohick Public Library, Burke, VA
Presents a lively and informative overview of the early years of pro football<-->from the late 1880s to the television era. Describes the colorful beginnings of the pro game and its outstanding teams (the Green Bay Packers, the New York Giants, the Chicago Bears, and the Baltimore Colts), and the great games they played. Offers 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. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195076073
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 12/5/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 912,592
  • Lexile: 1210L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.31 (w) x 9.44 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Author:
Robert W. Peterson, a college baseball and basketball player right after World War II, has been a magazine writer for 30 years. He has written two previous books on sports history: Only the Ball Was White, on the segregated black baseball leagues before Jackie Robinson, and Cages to Jump Shots: Pro Basketball's Early Years.

Read More Show Less

Table of 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
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 1 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2014

    Bought this for myself for Christmas, since I had a gift card la

    Bought this for myself for Christmas, since I had a gift card laying around with a $50 balance.

    The writing is good and it flows well, follows a good
    chronological timeline.
    I'm about halfway thru now, but if the rest of the book is like the first, then I'm not disappointed. This is a great tale of the early years of pro football from 1880ish until late 50s. My complaints are, however - holy crap, 33 bucks for a paperback? What is this, a college textbook? I have no idea why so expensive, it's certainly nothing special. Another beef is the font size. Yeah, I'm getting old and need reading glasses, but jeez, this stuff is like size 8 font. Come on, man! Lastly, there's a section of photos in the middle. For $33, I'd kind of expect them to look better than if someone ran 100 copies of a black &amp; white picture. Best bet - find a library copy.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)