The Little League That Could: A History of the American Football League

Ken Rappoport, Author
Ken Rappoport, Taylor Trade, $22.95 (232p) ISBN 978-1-58979-462-7
Reviewed on: 11/29/2010
Release date: 09/01/2010
Open Ebook - 211 pages - 978-1-282-71383-3
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Rappoport (Miracles, Shockers, and Long Shots) examines the American Football League's debut in 1960 and its unlikely decade-long rise to challenge the National Football League's monopoly, but struggles to form a cohesive narrative around his David and Goliath tale. Within a decade, the combined league, which now included the Dallas Texans, Denver Broncos, and Oakland Raiders, had won two Super Bowls and forced a merger, in 1966, leading to the creation of the NFL's current two-conference system. As Rappoport (Gridiron Glory, with Barry Wilner) recounts, the AFL was a pioneer of the modern game, introducing the use of film study, and possessed a colorful cast of characters, like Billy Cannon, and owners (dubbed the "Foolish Club"). Rappoport clearly reveres his subject, but fan-boy tangents ("Dawson was the AFL's player of the year in 1962... and, by the way, took the Texans to the championship"), a tendency toward hyperbole and conversational language, and an embrace of clich├ęs detract from a genuinely interesting (particularly to sports fans) historical tale. (Sept.)
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