This is as good a place to stop as any. Think about it: The book began with the Silent ’20s — so quiet you could hear the wind whipping through the stadium — and it ends with Johnny Sample running his mouth (often for the pure sport of it). Pro football had finally found its volume dial … and now, forty years later, everybody is Mic’d Up. Thanks to TV, radio, and the Internet, the NFL doesn’t have a single unexpressed thought anymore.
Besides, everything after 1969 has been epilogue. The NFL hasn’t had to deal with a serious threat since it merged with the AFL — only with mosquitoes like the World Football League, the United States Football League, and the XFL. The past four decades have basically been spent fine-tuning the product, maximizing profits, fending off lawsuits, and tending to labor matters. I’ll let you write the book about those years.
To me, the first fifty years were the best fifty years. They were the years of struggle. They were the years of creation. They were the years of “We interrupt this program to bring you the Second World War.” They were the rough-around-the-edges years when people said what was on their mind — without parsing words or worrying too much about the consequences.
Don’t get me wrong, pro football is still a joy to watch. But the enterprise itself has become exceedingly corporate. Jerry Richardson of the Carolina Panthers is the only owner — and probably the