A brief history of American football and the NFL for kids who love the sport.
This book covers the development of the game in the 1890s from a mix of soccer and rugby; tells the stories of the competing football leagues that either died out or merged into the NFL (most notably the AFL, which became one of the two NFL conferences, the AFC, and provides one of the two competitors in the Super Bowl); and presents the backstories of historic superstars and legendary plays and their impacts on the modern game (e.g., Johnny Unitas and the two-minute drill). Sportswriter Graves connects past to present by tracing the developments that shaped the modern game (such as the legalization of the forward pass, which resulted in the importance of wide receivers and quarterbacks). The closest this celebratory book gets to critique is in a discussion of concussions and helmets, but it focuses on the league’s efforts to actively improve policies and technology (politics and other sensitive, possibly negative topics are skirted). Sometimes the narrative jumps around, resulting in a disjointed, repetitive feel. Although the spotlight is shared among all the NFL teams (especially in the backmatter, which includes a timeline and statistics), certain fans will find more coverage for their teams than others (older, storied franchises like the Packers and modern dynasties like the Patriots get more ink than newer or less-successful teams).
A so-so collection of anecdotes of the NFL’s past glories. (map, timeline, championship winners, statistics, more resources, places to visit, selected bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)