Brand NFL: Making and Selling America's Favorite Sport

By Michael Oriard | Go to book overview

1
THE CREATION OF THE MODERN NFL IN THE 1960S

Professional football became Americans' favorite spectator sport in the 1960s. It was a decade of great players (as is every decade): Johnny Unitas and Sonny Jurgensen, Lenny Moore and Gayle Sayers, Deacon Jones and Dick Butkus, John Mackey and Raymond Berry. Nearly the entire starting lineup of the Green Bay Packers—Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Jim Taylor, Boyd Dowler, Max McGee, Jerry Kramer, Fuzzy Thurston, Jim Ringo, Forrest Gregg, Ron Kramer, Willie Davis, Henry Jordan, Ray Nitschke, Herb Adderley, Willie Wood—became household names. Without question, the greatest of them all was Jim Brown, one of the NFL'S few truly transcendent players from any era. In just nine seasons Brown rushed for 12,312 yards, averaging 5.2 yards per carry and leading the league eight times. He was Rookie of the Year, then league MVP four times; he played in nine Pro Bowls and missed not a single game—then walked away after the 1965 season, at age 30, still in his prime but with nothing left to prove. Few stars in any sport have been so unfettered by their own stardom. Among other interests, Brown embraced his role as a black man in a barely integrated sport, as few African American professional athletes of his generation did, at a time when such actions provoked more anger and resentment than respect. On the field, Brown was an astonishing fusion of speed, power, and agility, but no one player, no matter how good, can guarantee championships in pro football. Brown and Cleveland were perennial runners-up,a winning just one title, in 1964, an interruption in the run of the Green Bay Packers through the 1960s.

a. In Brown's other eight seasons, Cleveland won two conference titles but lost the

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Brand NFL: Making and Selling America's Favorite Sport
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: The Creation of the Modern Nfl in the 1960s 10
  • 2: No Freedom, No Football 55
  • 3: The End of the Rozelle Era 95
  • 4: The New Nfl 140
  • 5: Football as Product 175
  • 6: Football in Black and White 210
  • Conclusion 250
  • Notes 259
  • Acknowledgments 309
  • Index 311
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