The League: How Five Rivals Created the NFL and Launched a Sports Empire

The League: How Five Rivals Created the NFL and Launched a Sports Empire

by John Eisenberg


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The epic tale of the five owners who shepherded the NFL through its tumultuous early decades and built the most popular sport in America

The National Football League is a towering, distinctly American colossus spewing out $14 billion in annual revenue. But it was not always a success. In The League, John Eisenberg focuses on the pioneering sportsmen who kept the league alive in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s,when its challenges were many and its survival was not guaranteed. At the time, college football, baseball, boxing, and horseracing dominated America's sports scene. Art Rooney, George Halas, Tim Mara, George Preston Marshall, and Bert Bell believed in pro football when few others did and ultimately succeeded only because at critical junctures each sacrificed the short-term success of his team for the longer-term good of the league.

At once a history of a sport and a remarkable story of business ingenuity, The League is an essential read for any fan of our true national pastime.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781541618640
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 10/01/2019
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 101,988
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

John Eisenberg is the author of nine previous books, including That First Season and Ten-Gallon War, and a former sportswriter for the Baltimore Sun. He also has written for Sports Illustrated and Smithsonian Magazine. Eisenberg lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Part 1

1 Halas: The Founder 11

2 Mara: The Promoter 31

3 Marshall: The Showman 49

4 Bell: The Profligate Son 56

5 Rooney: The Gambler 70

Part 2

6 Almost Broke 81

7 New Ideas 94

8 Benny and the Giants 104

9 Instituting a Draft 117

10 Betting Bonanza 128

11 Move to DC 139

Part 3

12 Brotherhood of Rivals 155

13 A Step Forward 166

14 The Greatest Rout 176

15 Same Old Pirates 188

16 Political Winds 200

17 Dog Meat 209

18 Two Wars 222

19 The Right Guy in Charge 235

Part 4

20 Back Across the Color Line 249

21 Scandal 263

22 Everyone Loses 276

23 The Little Black Box 289

24 All-White Redskins 301

25 Forty Million Viewers 314

Epilogue 327

Acknowledgments 341

Note on Sources 343

Index 375

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