THE LEAGUE: The Rise and Fall of the NFL by David Harris
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THE LEAGUE: The Rise and Fall of the NFL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

With this engrossing dissection of the National Football League's power elite, Harris (Dreams Die Hard) establishes himself as a contemporary annalist to rival David Halberstam. The author zeroes in on events that have broken the ranks of franchise owners since 1974 when the 26-team association was at the peak of its game under slick quarterback Pete Rozelle. At the time, the NFL was an almost unqualified success whose blessings included sellout crowds and a lucrative TV contract that benefitted all clubs equally. Over the next decade, however, internal strife made a shambles of the NFL's vaunted stability. Rozelle's warnings about the consequences of disunity went largely unheeded by the headstrong owners. That they did so comes as little surprise to Harris, whose painstaking reportage reveals that many teams were controlled by contentious arrivistes unwilling or unable to embrace Rozelle's all-for-one/one-for-all policies. In the event, the results of their self-interested maneuverings have ranged from labor woes, costly bidding contests for talented players with a couple of new leagues, a series of lawsuits and persistent rumors of various scandals that have produced reams of bad publicity. Meanwhile, the NFL's TV ratings have turned down, threatening owners' increasingly meager income statements and leveraged balance sheets. The final score: an eye-opening look at NFL executives who mean business in ways not always apparent to Sunday's gridiron heroes--or their fans.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Bantam