The Little League That Could: A History of the American Football League

The Little League That Could: A History of the American Football League

by Ken Rappoport
     
 

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Wearing borrowed uniforms, practicing on obscure college campuses, and led by a former Marine Corps W.W. II fighter ace as commissioner, the American Football League (AFL) debuted in the Fall of 1960 to challenge the monopoly of the well-established National Football League. Within ten years it had won two Super Bowls and had forced a merger with its rival,

Overview

Wearing borrowed uniforms, practicing on obscure college campuses, and led by a former Marine Corps W.W. II fighter ace as commissioner, the American Football League (AFL) debuted in the Fall of 1960 to challenge the monopoly of the well-established National Football League. Within ten years it had won two Super Bowls and had forced a merger with its rival, splitting the NFL into the National and American Football Conferences. This colorful history of the AFL and its unforgettable cast of characters, from Billy Cannon to Joe Namath to its "Foolish Club" of team owners, arrives on the 50th anniversary of the AFL's first season to recount the startling success of an upstart league that prevailed against long odds.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Rappoport (Miracles, Shockers, and Long Shots) examines the American Football League's debut in 1960 and its unlikely decade-long rise to challenge the National Football League's monopoly, but struggles to form a cohesive narrative around his David and Goliath tale. Within a decade, the combined league, which now included the Dallas Texans, Denver Broncos, and Oakland Raiders, had won two Super Bowls and forced a merger, in 1966, leading to the creation of the NFL's current two-conference system. As Rappoport (Gridiron Glory, with Barry Wilner) recounts, the AFL was a pioneer of the modern game, introducing the use of film study, and possessed a colorful cast of characters, like Billy Cannon, and owners (dubbed the "Foolish Club"). Rappoport clearly reveres his subject, but fan-boy tangents ("Dawson was the AFL's player of the year in 1962... and, by the way, took the Texans to the championship"), a tendency toward hyperbole and conversational language, and an embrace of clichés detract from a genuinely interesting (particularly to sports fans) historical tale.
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Ange Coniglio
Ken Rappoport's The Little League That Could, written from the perspective that time now allows, shows the undeniable influence the American Football League had on Professional Football in America. It is the masterful analysis of the AFL that its fans have long awaited.
This book is filled with stories and memories of the likes of Billy Cannon, Lance Alworth, Elbert Dubenion and a host of other AFL stars. Every AFL fan should have it.
Ron Mix
[The Little League That Could] is a nice product and a valuable piece of sports history.
Ira Miller
Fifty years after the birth of the American Football League and 40 years after its absorption in a merger, the AFL's influence on the older NFL remains indelible, from the style of offenses to the two-point conversion rule, to the Super Bowl, to the names on the backs of jerseys, and more. Ken Rappoport brings it all to life in a vivid history, must reading for those who remember the AFL or simply want to know how the NFL got to where it is.
Library Journal
Fifty years ago, eight wealthy businessmen started the American Football League (AFL) as a rival to the established NFL, setting off an explosive decade of growth for both leagues that ended with an immensely popular merged league of 26 teams governing the game. Sportswriter Rappoport covered the AFL and has conducted interviews with scores of original participants to relay the history of a vibrant, exciting league that was very much a part of the flair of the 1960s. Although the interviews emphasize Buffalo and Boston players, Rappoport covers the entire league: Lamar Hunt's founding of the league; the Oilers' signing of Heisman winner Billy Cannon out from under the Rams in 1960; the importance of television to the new league's survival; the AFL's expansion of the job market for players, particularly African Americans; the fan-friendly, pass-happy style of AFL play; the funky stadiums; the merger; and the first four Super Bowls. While not as good as Jeff Miller's oral history Going Long or Dave Steidel's encyclopedic Remember the AFL, this is a vivid retelling of the upstart league's story.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781589794627
Publisher:
Taylor Trade Publishing
Publication date:
09/16/2010
Pages:
232
Sales rank:
472,170
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Ken Rappoport has covered every major sport out of New York for thirty years and was the AP's national hockey writer for thirteen years. He lives in Old Bridge, New Jersey.

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