Out of necessity, not choice, much of this work relies on secondary sources. Let’s face it, a séance would be required to interview a player from the ’20s or ’30s these days, and those from the ’40s and ’50s are going fast. That leaves the ’60s, and who remembers much of anything from those smoke-filled years? (Just kidding.)
Not that I didn’t track down a fair number of pro football pioneers and get their recollections on tape. I drove five hundred miles one weekend when the Redskins were in Dallas to talk to Slingin’ Sammy Baugh on his ranch in Rotan, Texas. I drove from Pittsburgh to Ashtabula, Ohio, after a Penguins-Capitals playoff series to reminisce with Ray Kemp, one of the early black players. I looked up Sid Luckman in Florida, spent several nights with Joe Perry in Arizona, called Hal Van Every (the World War II prisoner of war) on the phone, and exchanged e-mails with Ede Prendergast (granddaughter of the great — and forgotten — Harry March, the Giants’ first general manager). I did, in other words, what I could.
But when you reach as far back into the past as I’m reaching, you have to be willing to settle for less than the horse’s mouth. You have to read voluminously — old books, newspapers, magazines, scrapbooks, anything that will give you a glimpse into this vanishing era. You have to spend time looking at vintage game tapes at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You have to block off days just for browsing, for throwing names and words (like “ran into the