The Birth of the New NFL: How the 1966 NFL/AFL Merger Transformed Pro Football by Larry Felser
The Lyons Press 2008
Despite the stodgy prose, this is a comprehensive history of the merger between the American Football League and the National Football League in 1966.
The most informative aspect of this book is the story behind the formation and advancement of the upstart American Football League when several wealthy (and some not so wealthy) businessmen wanted into the professional football fold. Thwarted by the NFL and desiring a team, it was Lamar Hunt, owner of the Dallas Texans (later the Kansas City Chiefs) that really brought the AFL to fruition and helped create a league that was competitive with the long established NFL.
The story behind the merger is equally as fascinating, especially the clear lack of trust AFL commissioner Al Davis had among owners, as they essentially worked for a merger behind his back while he was taking an "all out, go to war" approach in trying to sign the biggest stars from the other league. I also learned a great deal about how the television contacts the AFL were able to garner greatly helped the league, and the integral role Ralph Wilson played in this, and eventually the merger itself. It’s surprising that it took so long for Ralph Wilson (owner of the Buffalo Bills) to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
For those interested in NFL history and how the AFL was founded, grew and eventually managed to merge with the NFL, this book is worth reading. But I will warn that the writing and organization of the book leave a lot to be desired.
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