The Game before the Money: Voices of the Men Who Built the NFL

The Game before the Money: Voices of the Men Who Built the NFL

The Game before the Money: Voices of the Men Who Built the NFL

The Game before the Money: Voices of the Men Who Built the NFL

Excerpt

Before free agency, professional football was generally an unstable, unpredictable job, paying roughly a middle-class wage. It was seasonal work providing minimal retirement benefits and guaranteed to be temporary.

The game also offered an excitement and competitive challenge few occupations could match, not to mention hordes of cheering spectators, television coverage, and the accompanying notoriety. On the other hand, a career could end at any moment, outside of one’s control.

Football first topped Gallup’s poll as America’s favorite sport in 1972, but baseball has long held the market on nostalgia. A delight in the personalities that played the grand old game—from Stan Musial’s charm to Ty Cobb’s sourness— cultivates baseball’s endearing timelessness.

Football history, however, is rarely presented in such fashion. Many writers simply depict football players in gladiatorlike stereotypes that are frequently inaccurate. Often the athletes’ off-field demeanor stands in contrast to the gridiron’s stoic image.

The Game before the Money is simply a book by a fan who dreamed of having a book like this upon his own bookshelf. I was frustrated by the dearth of pro football history presented in an authentic, genuine fashion, beyond the typical sportswriter angles of iron, blood, and guts. I wished . . .

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