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The Little League That Could: A History of the American Football League Hardcover – September 16, 2010


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The Little League That Could: A History of the American Football League + Birth of the New NFL: How The 1966 Nfl/Afl Merger Transformed Pro Football + Going Long : The Wild Ten Year Saga of the Renegade American Football League in the Words of Those Who Lived It
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Ken Rappoport's The Little League That Could, written from the perspective that time now allows, shows the undeniable influence the American Football League had on Professional Football in America. It is the masterful analysis of the AFL that its fans have long awaited. This book is filled with stories and memories of the likes of Billy Cannon, Lance Alworth, Elbert Dubenion and a host of other AFL stars. Every AFL fan should have it. (Ange Coniglio, www.remembertheafl.com)

[The Little League That Could] is a nice product and a valuable piece of sports history. (Ron Mix, nine-time AFL All-Star and AFL All-Time First Team)

Fifty years after the birth of the American Football League and 40 years after its absorption in a merger, the AFL's influence on the older NFL remains indelible, from the style of offenses to the two-point conversion rule, to the Super Bowl, to the names on the backs of jerseys, and more. Ken Rappoport brings it all to life in a vivid history, must reading for those who remember the AFL or simply want to know how the NFL got to where it is. (Ira Miller, award-winning sportswriter, has covered the NFL for more than three decades and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Sel)

...[A] vivid retelling of the upstart league's story. (Library Journal)

About the Author

Ken Rappoport has covered every major sport out of New York for thirty years and was the AP's national hockey writer for thirteen years. He lives in Old Bridge, New Jersey.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Taylor Trade Publishing; 1 edition (September 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589794621
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589794627
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #466,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
5 star
25%
4 star
44%
3 star
31%
2 star
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1 star
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See all 16 customer reviews
If you're a football fan or a sports history buff you will enjoy reading this book.
Doug Cornelius
It would have been better to have these inserts at the end of the book as to not distract from the main focus of the book.
Crash
As a longtime football fan, I enjoyed reading this retrospective look at the decade long history of the AFL.
Glenn Peach

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By James Pernikoff on August 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I would describe this book more as a business history about the American Football League than as a traditional sports book. The author does a very good job of describing why this league survived while all the other leagues that attempted to compete with the NFL (including three prior AFLs) failed.

On-the-field action is described mainly in enough detail to support the history of the league's development. There is plenty of biographical data, mainly in the form of a couple of sidebars that punctuate each chapter. There are many anecdotes that help make the book a fun read.

There are no photos and no statistics, aside from those that may be quoted in the narrative. For that you'd have to go to a book like "Remember the AFL", for which this book makes a good pairing with.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Crash on December 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book gives you a interesting take on football and how if it wasn't for the AFL a lot of what we see in football today wouldn't be. Names on the back of jerseys and passing being a intricate part of the sport just to name a couple. You'll not only learn the things the AFL brought to the table but also info on how certain teams got their names as well as some info on how rivalries stared. Overall you get a great look at football especially if you weren't around before/during/directly after the merge. My complaint and reasoning for the 3 star rating was in the way the book was written. I found my self reading paragraphs over a few times do to the fact that each section covers the whole span of the leagues existence which can get confusing when going from chapter to chapter. I think the book would have been better if each chapter was dedicated to a specific year instead of a specific topic that spanned the leagues existence. It also has story inserts in each chapter about a specific person although interesting it cuts the flow of the book. It would have been better to have these inserts at the end of the book as to not distract from the main focus of the book. For the price it's not too bad, but if you hate books that jump around then this one is not for you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Doug Cornelius on October 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
My house is a football house, but mostly an AFC football house. I'm a long time Patriots fan and Mrs. Doug bleeds KC Chiefs red. With a little knowledge of football history you would know that the AFC is comprised mostly of the teams from upstart American Football League that started playing in the 1960s.

Ken Rappoport weaves stories told by the players, owners, and coaches from the days of the American Football League in The Little League That Could: A History of the American Football League

It all began when Lamar Hunt watched the 1958 NFL title game between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts. He envisioned that football was the best sport for television and that it would become big because of television.

He wanted in.

He tried convincing the NFL to grant him an expansion franchise. He tried buying the Cardinals (then located in Chicago). Neither route to NFL ownership worked.

Unable to get in, he decided to start his own league. He first teamed up with Bud Adams who he had met while Adams while also trying, unsuccessfully, to buy the Cardinals. The other big money owner was Barron Hilton, scion of the hotel family (and eventually grandfather to Paris). Those three brought along five other franchises, including the underfunded Billy Sullivan and my beloved Boston Patriots.

I was expecting the book to be an encyclopedia retelling of the history of the AFL. It's not. It's told by the participants in the league. I had the feeling that I was sitting in a bar with these great personalities telling me their stories of glory. Rappoport does a great job capturing those stories and weaving them together into a coherent narrative.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jason Goetz on October 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As a member of the younger generation of football fans--22 years old--I missed the glory days of pre-1990s Cowboys football. The difference isn't trivial; the highly commercialized sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll era that was the mid-to-late-1990s changed football from its purer forms. Right?

Evidently, and according to Ken Rappoport, not so much. Though some aspects of the 1990s machine are different, the commercial nature of football really began with the high-flying American Football League of the 1960s. Between the wars for contracts and the open-field dynamic centered around gunslinging Brett Favre-types, the eventual second half of the National Football League was far ahead of its times. A fascinating account with first-hand sources and the triple bird's-eye, management's-eye and on-the-field narrative elements blended nicely, The Little League That Could is well worth the sport's fan's time and effort (and dollars). It is a different tale from the typical sports book, covering an era from all angles and aspects.

There is but one flaw and it is worth here briefly mentioning: the book contains what are called "sidebars" and they are placed in the middle of the chapters but there isn't a sufficient break to make their placement within the book easy to reconcile. In other words, they take up full pages, and are placed in the middle of the narrative--in the middle of sentences, in the middle of paragraphs and sections that need to be read together--and instead of taking the much easier and obvious route of placing them at those natural breaks (end of thoughts or even chapters), their placement makes the book more difficult than it has to be. Slightly. When does one read the sidebars?

As should be noted, that flaw is fairly minor. So check it out!
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