The tale of a time when it was unclear if Dallas was big enough for one professional football team, much less two.
Prior to the 1960s, Texas was a football state, and Dallas was a football town, but the high school and college games prevailed in the Lone Star State. Lamar Hunt, Dallas native, scion of an oil baron and a former football player at Southern Methodist University, wanted to bring professional football, which had come and gone in an epic flameout in the early 1950s, to Dallas. However, the National Football League seemed to have little interest in accommodating Hunt, who instead came up with the idea of a new league to challenge the NFL. The American Football League brought a free-wheeling, exciting brand of football to a number of American cities that did not have a professional football team, and to a few that did. Hunt’s new league also allowed him finally to own a team based in Dallas, but his Texans would not, in fact, enjoy a monopoly over the burgeoning city. Once plans for the AFL came to fruition, the NFL chose to expand into the Dallas area with the establishment of the Cowboys, whose owner, Clint Murchison, was another from Texas’ seemingly inexhaustible supply of rich oil men. Veteran sports journalist Eisenberg (That First Season: How Vince Lombardi Took the Worst Team in the NFL and Set It on the Path to Glory, 2009, etc.) tells the story of the competition for fans that the Texans and Cowboys waged through much of the 1960s, until Hunt picked up and left for Kansas City to found the Chiefs.
The narrative is mostly engaging, but the author’s overuse of clichés and exclamation points becomes grating.