I'd Like To Report A Crime!
Name? Casey. Casey from Casey’s Clipboard.
Address? Uh…ccww.wordpress.com. Everyone knows it.
About the crime…Huh?
Uh...not really any imminent danger, but there is a crime happening right before our very eyes, and nobody seems to even know it.
Who? Well, it’s hard to say. Someone’s trying to remove the AFL from the record books. The AFL. The American Football League!
The AFL was Lamar Hunt’s idea and began play in 1960.
The league consisted of two divisions. The Houston Oilers, New York Titans, Buffalo Bills, and Boston Patriots made up the East division while the Los Angeles Chargers, Dallas Texans, Oakland Raiders, and Denver Broncos played in the West.
Yeah, two whole divisions. They had games and all with referees, ticket takers, announcers and, everything. Did you know the AFL was the first football league to actually use a score clock. Yeah! Sweet, huh? Before the AFL, referees kept time and score in their pocket. Can you imagine?
The AFL was the first to use a moving sideline camera. Moving sideline camera? It’s that camera on a truck that moves up and down the sideline, following the action. It’s so common nowadays that we take it for granted.
Oh, yeah—you know all that talk that Buffalo has never won a sports championship? That’s bunk. They won the AFL title. Twice! Jack Kemp, Billy Shaw, and Cookie Gilchrist. Dudes had mad game. Yeah, they almost played in the first Super Bowl.
Well, actually—it wasn’t called the Super Bowl when they first played it. Here, let me explain:
Teams in the AFL played a fourteen-game schedule—a balanced schedule, with each team playing all others in the league twice during the season.
While the Titans led the league that inaugural season in team offense, the Oilers topped the Chargers 24-16 for the league championship.
The Oilers repeated as champions the following year, once again defeating the Chargers, who now hailed from San Diego.
In ’62 the Texans ended the Oilers' reign with a 20-17 victory.
For the ’63 season, the Titans changed their name to the Jets, the Texans moved to Kansas City and became known as the Chiefs, and the Chargers won their first title, beating the Patriots 51-10.
Ralph Wilson’s Buffalo Bills won the next two AFL Titles, beating the Chargers both years: 20-7 in ’64, and 23-0 in ’65. The Bills won a title! Isn’t that great?
What? Prescriptions? No, I’m not taking any prescriptions. No, I’m not currently under the direct care of a physician. Yes, I know this is 9-1-1.
Even though the AFL received scant media coverage, the league presented a challenge to the rough-and-tumble NFL. The owners of the NFL, wishing to dismiss any possibility that the AFL could play at the same level as the established league, agreed to a game between leagues. Thus the AFL-NFL World Championship game was born.
The Chiefs beat the Bills to qualify for that first title game, against Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers. The following year, the Raiders topped the Oilers.
It wasn’t until 1968 that AFL began to earn respect. It was that year that ‘Broadway’ Joe Namath (long before his sideline escapades with Suzy Kolber) led the upstart Jets to victory over the Baltimore Colts and the NFL. One year later, the Chiefs reinforced the AFL’s prominence with a victory over the Vikings in Super Bowl IV.
After the ’69 season the NFL and AFL merged. Having added the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals, the AFL now consisted of ten teams. To balance out the two conferences the Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Cleveland Browns agreed to play in the AFC. Thus, the NFL the way we know it was born.
The AFL has ceased to exist, but its effect is still seen today. Football greats such as Lance Alworth, Len Dawson, Don Maynard, Jack Kemp, Daryl Lamonica, Floyd Little, and the aforementioned Namath began their careers in the AFL. The league revolutionized the game. Owners of AFL teams made the forward pass a prominent part of the game. Something we enjoy now.
The Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, and New Orleans Saints were awarded franchises in the NFL to avoid their cities joining the upstart AFL.
Despite all its contributions, the AFL seems like barely a blip on the screen of sports’ history. Only Kemp is noted as an AFL player in the NFL Hall of Fame while others played in the league. But this league challenged the establishment and helped to create what we have today.
How should you report this crime? I don’t know. Revisionism? Someone is trying to revise sports history. Don’t let ‘em do it. Don’t let them forget the AFL!
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