Peterson presents a lively and informative overview of the early years of pro football--from the late 1880s to the beginning of the television era--describing the colorful inception of the pro game and its outstanding teams (the Green Bay Packers, the New York Giants, the Chicago Bears, the Baltimore Colts) and the great games they played. 16 ...Read MorePeterson presents a lively and informative overview of the early years of pro football--from the late 1880s to the beginning of the television era--describing the colorful inception of the pro game and its outstanding teams (the Green Bay Packers, the New York Giants, the Chicago Bears, the Baltimore Colts) and the great games they played. 16 halftone illustrations.Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 1996-11-11 Veteran magazine writer and author of two previous books on sports history, Only the Ball Was White and Cages to Jump Shots: Pro Basketball's Early Years, Peterson weaves oral history, analysis and anecdote into a play-by-play history of the game from 1920 to the 1958 championship contest between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants. In those four decades, the old power game gradually changed into one of strategy and skill. It was a transformation that greatly increased football's appeal as a spectator sport, until, as the 1958 game showed, it became inextricably bound up with the new medium of television. Improvements in the game included the advent of forward passing, the change in the shape of the ball in 1933 (the new form, as Peterson points out, is "a passer-friendly ball, but it ended the drop-kick era because the sharper point caused an erratic rebound from the ground") and the institution of the T-formation: "The overall purpose of the T-formation with man in motion was to emphasize speed and deception rather than power." According to Peterson, "During its first forty-odd years, professional football was the raggedy step-child of the glamorous college game," but the NFL started to come into its own in the late '20s and early '30s with the competent and likable New York Giants and the Notre Dame All-Stars, the latter coached by the famed Knute Rockne. Peterson highlights the careers of pivotal individuals of the early pro game such as Chicago Bears coach and owner George Halas and former Olympian and first president of the American Football Association (which would, in 1922, change its name to the NFL), Jim Thorpe. Also mentioned are John V. McNally (aka John Blood), Bulldog Turner and Paul Brown, the great first coach of the eponymous Cleveland Browns. For the genuine football aficionado interested in such esoteric particulars as the origins of the draw play, or for the curious bystander intrigued with the seemingly elusive intricacies of the sport, Pigskin is an engaging and detailed chronicle. (Dec.)
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