Friday, January 29, 2010

ON THE AMERICAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE

Just finished watching the NFL Network air the Showtime original miniseries about the old American Football League called Full Color Football: The History of the American Football League.
What a fascinating documentary, and what a fascinating time the Sixties were for all football fans. I have a soft spot for the old AFL, mainly because I like following the teams in the AFC more than I do the NFC. Seeing the league's struggles for respectability and all that all over again, with the Jets and Joe Namath in the Super Bowl, the infamous Heidi Game and the rest of it, was fun stuff.

If you want to know what the Heidi Game was, let's just say that NBC's long and storied history of inept programming decisions predates the Jay Leno-Conan O'Brien mess by several decades.

There was plenty of footage of the old Buffalo Bills and as someone who used to live in Toronto and got the Bills shoved down our throats on TV all the time I found that interesting.

What is most interesting of all is that there were ex-players for the CFL Saskatchewan Roughriders, Gino Cappelletti and Cookie Gilchrist, who went on to be big stars in the AFL for the Patriots and Bills, respectively. In fact, I read that the Riders cut Cappelletti. What were they smoking back then?!

The AFL merged with the NFL on pretty much an even footing in 1970 and this year the old charter franchises in that league celebrated 50 years with several commemorative games in their old uniforms. Unfortunately, none of the "original 10" are in the Super Bowl this year, with two old NFL franchises, the Saints and Colts, duking it out. What was so interesting in the documentary was that the Colts were really quick to accept the $3 million by the NFL to make the switch to the new AFC back in 1970.

I thought I would link here to a couple of historical sites about the old league. One is called Remember the AFL and the other site at afl-football.50webs.com is located here.

Also, to show you some good examples of how not to run a rival league, here are links to websites about the spectacularly unsuccessful World Football League and the not-so-successful spring fling known as the United States Football League. Both of those leagues, though, were wild successes compared to what went down in 2001 with the utterly dreadful, laughable XFL led by Vince McMahon.

No comments: