WHEN THE GRASS WAS REAL by Bob Carroll

WHEN THE GRASS WAS REAL

Unitas, Brown, Lombardi, Sayers, Butkus, Namath, and All the Rest: The Best Ten Years of Pro Football

KIRKUS REVIEW

 An informal retrospective on pro football in the 1960's, skillfully blending facts, figures, and historical analysis with a fan's joyful nostalgia. Though Carroll (The Football Abstract, 1991, etc.--not reviewed) opens with a stumbling account of Lamar Hunt's 1958 decision to found a new league (the AFL) to compete with the entrenched National Football League, he soon hits his stride. Using interviews with former players and coaches (Sid Gillman, Sam Huff, Forrest Gregg, Willie Davis, et al.), as well as profiles of legendary figures such as Vince Lombardi, Gale Sayers, Joe Namath, Jim Brown, and Dick Butkus, the author tells how ``pro football emerged as the game of the '60s.'' As he moves from the AFL's inaugural season in 1960 to Namath's signing for a then-unheard-of $426,000, the merger of the leagues in 1966, and, finally, Hunt's vindication in 1969 (when his Kansas City Chiefs embarrassed the vaunted Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV), Carroll recounts key games, championships, trades, franchise moves, bitter draft wars, and the all-around astounding growth of pro football during the decade. Total attendance at regular season games rose from three million in 1959 to nine million in 1969 (although the number of teams rose as well, from 12 to 26; for comparison's sake, Carroll should have offered similar stats from baseball and basketball). Perhaps most significantly, in 1950 the NFL had a $50,000 TV deal for the entire league; by 1963, the deal was for $325,000 per team; by the late 1960's, it was in the millions per team and the Super Bowl had become an ``unofficial national holiday.'' If not ``a Golden Age,'' Carroll writes, ``the 1960s were the age when pro football struck gold.'' Well-done popular history that will delight older fans while providing a solid introduction to newer students of the game. (One hundred b&w photos--not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-671-73301-X
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1993




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