2021 popular NFL Century: The One-Hundred-Year Rise new arrival of America's outlet sale Greatest Sports League outlet online sale

2021 popular NFL Century: The One-Hundred-Year Rise new arrival of America's outlet sale Greatest Sports League outlet online sale

2021 popular NFL Century: The One-Hundred-Year Rise new arrival of America's outlet sale Greatest Sports League outlet online sale

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From the former executive director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame comes a sweeping and lively history of the National Football League, timed to coincide with the NFL’s 100th anniversary season.
 
“I can think of no one better qualified—or more enthusiastic—to chronicle the National Football League’s century-long history than Joe Horrigan.”—Marv Levy, Hall of Fame NFL coach

The NFL has come a long way from its founding in Canton, Ohio, in 1920. In the hundred years since that fateful day, football has become America’s most popular and lucrative professional sport. The former scrappy upstart league that struggled to stay afloat has survived a host of challenges—the Great Depression and World War II, controversies and scandals, battles over labor rights and competition from rival leagues—to produce American icons like Vince Lombardi, Joe Montana, and Tom Brady. It is an extraordinary and entertaining history that could be told only by Joe Horrigan, former executive director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and perhaps the greatest living historian of the NFL, by drawing upon decades of NFL archives. Compelling, eye-opening, and authoritative,  NFL Century is a must-read for NFL fans and anyone who loves the game of football.

Advance praise for NFL Century

“Joe Horrigan takes the reader on a delightful tour of the seminal moments of the NFL in the past one hundred years—the players, owners, coaches, executives, and historical events that made the game of football the most popular in America. It’s a wonderful walk down memory lane for any football fan, young or old.” —Michael Lombardi, author of Gridiron Genius
 
“There is no one—and I mean no one—who knows more about the history of the NFL than Joe Horrigan, the heart and soul of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. As the gold standard of sports leagues celebrates its one hundredth season, it’s appropriate that the gold standard of sports historians has written  NFL Century, an entertaining and educational journey.” —Gary Myers, New York Times bestselling author of Brady vs Manning

Review

“Joe Horrigan may not have witnessed all one hundred seasons of the NFL in person, but it seems that way from reading NFL Century. Some of the story lines we know, others are a revelation, but the legends and lore of professional football come to life throughout these pages.” —Chris Berman, ESPN sportscaster
 
“It is a daunting challenge to weave a narrative from the years of Jim Thorpe and Fritz Pollard to the years of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Joe Horrigan pulls it off elegantly in NFL Century. His choice of subjects to highlight is spot-on. His reporting sheds new light on decades-old events. A century of rollicking pro football history flies by.” —John Eisenberg, author of The League
 
“An entertaining, passionate, and educational rags-to-riches story of the NFL’s greatest names, games, and events of the past one hundred seasons of America’s most popular sport. NFL Century should be on the shelf of every football fan’s library.” —Chris Willis, head of the Research Library at NFL Films, author of Red Grange

“Masterful . . . a superb compilation of anecdotes, little-known facts, insightful analysis and memorable quotes . . . Everything in the book, from the roots laid in Canton, Ohio, to the exhaustive look at Roger Goodell’s commissionership, is, well, Hall of Fame caliber.” —Associated Press
 
“Horrigan, who began his career at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977 as a researcher and recently retired as now the HOF’s executive director, guides readers through the NFL’s good times and bad, always with an eye on the steady growth and increasing stability of the enterprise. Of course, there are anecdotes aplenty about the great players, historic games, and landmark moments, on the field and off (television contracts, labor disputes, scandals). Horrigan provides context for every moment, and the result is the definitive history of the league to date.” Booklist
 
“Fans of the pigskin will savor this vigorous account of pro football’s evolution.” Kirkus Reviews
 
“This fast-paced history will thrill football fans of all allegiances.” Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Joe Horrigan began his long career at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977 as the museum’s curator-researcher and capped off his career as its executive director, administering the Hall of Fame’s annual enshrinee selection process. Now retired after forty-two years with the organization, he is regarded as the foremost historian on professional football, and has authored, co-authored, and edited several books on the subject, including The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 50th Anniversary Book: Where Greatness Lives. Co-host of the popular weekly national radio show Pro Football Hall of Fame Radio, on SiriusXM, Horrigan has been featured in numerous NFL Films presentations and sports documentaries.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1

League Talk

Professional football as we know it began in the fall of 1892 when one William “Pudge” Heffelfinger, an All-American tackle from Yale, accepted a $500 cash payment to play for the Allegheny Athletic Association. The AAA played out of what today is the North Shore of Pittsburgh.

If $500 sounds like a cheap deal, consider this: $500 back then had the buying power of roughly $13,000 today.

And this: Heffelfinger’s payment from the AAA was for a single game, against their crosstown rival, the hated Pittsburgh Athletic Club (PAC). The AAA won the game 4–0 (touchdowns were worth four points from 1892 to 1898, five points from 1898 to 1911, and six points starting in 1912) and Heffelfinger earned his pay scoring the game’s only touchdown on a 35-yard fumble recovery.

Evidence of Heffelfinger’s role in the creation of professional football can be found today in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, preserved on a slightly yellowed page of the AAA’s expense accounting ledger for November 12, 1892.

Ironically, what would have been considered damning evidence of unethical professionalism back then is now proudly displayed at the Hall of Fame as pro football’s “birth certificate.”

While the indelible-ink entry is proof positive of Heffelfinger’s pay, it’s unlikely that the recompense was truly the first time the purity of the sport’s amateur code had been violated. In fact, under-the-table payments to “ringers” were becoming more and more commonplace. It’s just that in Heffelfinger’s case, the AAA put it in writing.

Eventually the practice of paying players became so routine that some amateur clubs, including the AAA, simply decided to be open about it.

While the result was better football, the high cost of bidding for the services of the best players created an unanticipated financial strain on some of the athletic clubs, so much so that one by one they began to drop football altogether.

Also, “ringers” were never fully embraced by team loyalists. One week player X was a welcomed member of the “home team” and the next he was an unwelcomed opponent. As a result, fan acceptance of the pro version of football, particularly in the “amateur athletic clubs” of Pennsylvania and New York, began to wilt.

However, in nearby Ohio, the opposite seemed to be happening. Amateur competition in cities like Akron, Canton, Dayton, Massillon, Shelby, and Youngstown became so competitive that teams began to openly recruit play-for-pay athletes.

In 1903, the Massillon Tigers became the first Ohio team to blatantly lure players with cash. Others followed, including Massillon’s fiercest rival and Stark County neighbor, Canton. Prior to the start of the 1905 season, the Canton Athletic Club (CAC) announced that their football team would be a “professional organization,” complete with a “professional coach.” The mission of the rechristened Canton Bulldogs was simple: beat Massillon.

Suddenly, Ohio was the hotbed of professional football. A small group of pro teams, mostly from the northeastern part of the state, became known as the “Ohio League.”

The Ohio League was an unstable entity whose makeup changed from year to year as teams folded and new ones emerged. The informal “league” usually included three to five teams and, depending on their fortunes, one or two from other Ohio cities like Columbus, Cincinnati, or Dayton. An imaginary title was claimed by the team faring the best against the other entries.

Although semipro or pro teams could be found in many small midwestern cities and towns by the early 1900s, the Ohio League teams were clearly the best. They recruited the best, paid the most, and drew the largest crowds.

But make no mistake—the game was far from being a serious challenge to college football, major-league baseball, boxing, or even horse racing. Critics claimed it lacked organization, stability, credibility, and integrity, and to a large extent, they were right.

Adding fuel to that fire was a controversy in which a Bulldogs player, Charles “Blondy” Wallace, allegedly attempted to fix an important late-season game in 1906, between Canton and Massillon. Although no real evidence to support the charges was presented, the well-publicized allegations helped to validate critics’ claims that pro teams were nothing more than disorganized bunches of vagabond tramp athletes willing to play for the highest bidder.

The resulting lack of public confidence, compounded by the ever-increasing cost of securing well-known players, caused Canton to fold following the 1906 season. Though Massillon continued to operate, they did so as a second-tier team with a substantially smaller payroll. Gone after two seasons was Ohio’s first pro football rivalry. And without its two best-known teams, the other Ohio League teams suffered as well.

Then, in 1912, a twenty-one-year-old “sports enthusiast” named Jack Cusack offered his unpaid services as treasurer and secretary to a newly organized Canton Professionals football team. Within weeks the aggressive rookie promoter found himself in total control of the born-again football club.

Cusack set out to restore Canton to its earlier prominence. To that end, in 1915 he lured Olympic champion Jim Thorpe, the biggest name in sports, to Canton. Anxious to resurrect the rivalry between Canton and Massillon, Cusack rechristened his Canton team the “Bulldogs” and scheduled two games—home and away—with the newly reorganized Massillon Tigers.

In Thorpe, pro football had its first bona fide star and a major gate attraction. Some fans could hardly believe it when word leaked that Cusack was paying him $250 per game.

“Even the most loyal Cantonites thought Cusack had lost his mind and would soon lose his shirt,” wrote pro football historian Bob Carroll. But when 6,000 paying customers showed up for the first Canton-Massillon game and 8,000 for the second, the doubters were silenced. The Thorpe-led team went on to capture Ohio League championships in both 1916 and 1917.

While Thorpe’s presence certainly bolstered attendance and revenues for Canton, things weren’t as rosy for the other Ohio League teams. For them, except for games against Canton, attendance and revenues were down. A good part of the downturn, however, had nothing to do with the game.

On April 6, 1917, the United States officially entered World War I. Almost immediately teams felt its effect as players either enlisted or were drafted.

Compounding the problem, a deadly influenza pandemic swept the country in early 1918. To limit the spread of the outbreak, ordinances were passed restricting large gatherings, including sporting events. The manpower shortage and the fear of contagion caused most pro teams, including Canton and Massillon, to fold during the 1918 season.

While Cusack and other team managers proclaimed the interruption would be a one-year pause, no one could be certain pro football would survive.

Relief came with the war’s end in 1919 and the simultaneous decline of the pandemic. Anxious to pick up where they had left off, the four “Ohio League” teams ended their hiatus. But some serious challenges remained.

To begin with, during the wartime layoff, Cusack sold the Bulldogs to Ralph E. Hay, a twenty-seven-year-old Canton entrepreneur and owner of the Ralph E. Hay Motor Company.

Over in Massillon, while Tigers owners Jack Donahue and Jack Whalen proclaimed their readiness to once again field a team, their constant complaints about how much money they’d lost in 1917 cast a question mark over the new season.

To the north, Akron Indians owner Vernon “Mac” McGinnis indicated he was ready to give it another go. And even though Youngstown Patricians manager Mickey Stambaugh was drowning in red ink and angry about having his roster poached in 1917, he said he was willing to forgive and forget and start anew.

Despite these challenges, a sense of optimism seemed to take root among these strange bedfellows. Hay emerged as the group’s main cheerleader. Whether it was his naïveté as a rookie manager, previous entrepreneurial successes, having Thorpe under contract, or a combination of all three fortuitous circumstances, his passionate confidence was the dose of “recovery medicine” needed by a sport already on life support.

The same problems that faced the pro game ever since Heffelfinger’s big payday continued to plague the Ohio League in 1919: players jumping from one team to another for a few dollars more, high salary demands and bidding wars for “big name” players, and the signing of amateur collegians. Sound familiar? In many ways, they’re the same problems still facing the game today.

The Ohio League managers decided it was in their own best interest to at least discuss the issues. However, just getting together proved to be difficult. Three meetings in three different cities were needed to address the important matters before them.

Hay hosted the first meeting on July 14 in Canton. Massillon and Akron showed up. Youngstown didn’t. Manager Stambaugh was reportedly “on vacation.” Likely a hunting trip for additional investors.

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4.5 out of 54.5 out of 5
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Top reviews from the United States

Dan L.
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Needs a factchecker
Reviewed in the United States on September 2, 2019
I was disappointed by this book. It had the potential to be so much better and it ended up being a regurgitation of information previously written about elsewhere. The most glaring thing were the blatant factual errors and mistakes on proper names. Influential Tampa Bay... See more
I was disappointed by this book. It had the potential to be so much better and it ended up being a regurgitation of information previously written about elsewhere. The most glaring thing were the blatant factual errors and mistakes on proper names. Influential Tampa Bay owner Hugh Culverhouse was "Culverson" more than once and a couple sportswriters names were wrong (Bill Lyon and Bill Plaschke were Lyons and Paschke). The worst one was in a Chapter discussing what the NFL did after 9-11 Art Modell was referred to as the owner of the Cleveland Browns. Too bad he had moved the Browns to Baltimore to become the Ravens some years earlier.

I really wanted to like this book, but it seemed like it was thrown together in a rush and/or assembled by research interns using other source material who have no knowledge of the NFL and its history. Nothing original about this book. Disappointing.
22 people found this helpful
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Tom W. Chilek
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
NFL @ 100
Reviewed in the United States on September 19, 2019
Great book on the history and memories of the first 100 years of the National Football League. The book captured most of the significant moments of this Sunday fall tradition. Only thing, I was hoping there was a chapter dedicated the the World Football League of the mid... See more
Great book on the history and memories of the first 100 years of the National Football League. The book captured most of the significant moments of this Sunday fall tradition. Only thing, I was hoping there was a chapter dedicated the the World Football League of the mid 1970''s. Not much has been written about this league and it would have been interesting to read how all the player defections into the league affected the NFL as a whole. But that is minor thing. I highly recommend this book to any football fan. Here''s to another 100 years! :)
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Parker
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Where’s Bobby Layne?
Reviewed in the United States on October 27, 2019
Turn to the index. You won’t find Bobby Layne listed. How do you write a history book of the NFL without even mentioning Bobby Layne? He is what a book like this should be about. The Detroit Lions still suffer from “the curse of Bobby Layne.” If you want to know what that... See more
Turn to the index. You won’t find Bobby Layne listed. How do you write a history book of the NFL without even mentioning Bobby Layne? He is what a book like this should be about. The Detroit Lions still suffer from “the curse of Bobby Layne.” If you want to know what that is, well you won’t find it in this book.
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Alaska Jim
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Typos and blatant inaccuracies everywhere.
Reviewed in the United States on November 21, 2020
Typos and blatant inaccuracies everywhere. This book is garbage. What?? Did they use Helen Keller as the editor?
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Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Super Bowl Read
Reviewed in the United States on January 14, 2020
Great book about the history of the NFL through the little known stories. Very cool 😎 and a must for any football fan
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Fun read and interesting facts & stories. Football History from different advantage. Enjoyed the last chapter in particular.
Reviewed in the United States on September 21, 2019
Great read! Football history from a different perspectives and clearly corrected a few myths. Joe Horrigan knows his football- 42 years of knowledge!
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Michael
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
What the nfl was like
Reviewed in the United States on October 11, 2019
Great book with lots of pictures of the history of the nfl
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Kenny F'ing Powers dude
1.0 out of 5 stars
Comically inept
Reviewed in the United States on November 10, 2019
A complete waste of time.
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2021 popular NFL Century: The One-Hundred-Year Rise new arrival of America's outlet sale Greatest Sports League outlet online sale

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2021 popular NFL Century: The One-Hundred-Year Rise new arrival of America's outlet sale Greatest Sports League outlet online sale

2021 popular NFL Century: The One-Hundred-Year Rise new arrival of America's outlet sale Greatest Sports League outlet online sale

2021 popular NFL Century: The One-Hundred-Year Rise new arrival of America's outlet sale Greatest Sports League outlet online sale

2021 popular NFL Century: The One-Hundred-Year Rise new arrival of America's outlet sale Greatest Sports League outlet online sale

2021 popular NFL Century: The One-Hundred-Year Rise new arrival of America's outlet sale Greatest Sports League outlet online sale

2021 popular NFL Century: The One-Hundred-Year Rise new arrival of America's outlet sale Greatest Sports League outlet online sale

2021 popular NFL Century: The One-Hundred-Year Rise new arrival of America's outlet sale Greatest Sports League outlet online sale

2021 popular NFL Century: The One-Hundred-Year Rise new arrival of America's outlet sale Greatest Sports League outlet online sale