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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9780071409940: Going Long: The Wild Ten-Year Saga of the Renegade American Football League in the Words of Those Who Lived It

“Outlandish, informative, and above all, funny.”

—Sports Illustrated

Now in paperback, Going Long brings the incredible story of the maverick American Football League to life through the words of the players, coaches, owners, and others who lived it. This story of the AFL is filled with legendary names such as Bob Griese, Joe Namath, Lamar Hunt, Jack Kemp, Len Dawson, and more. From the contentious formation of the league, to paychecks bouncing as often as footballs, to improbable Super Bowl victories, Going Long presents the colorful and sometimes bizarre tale of eight teams and a league that refused to die.

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From the Back Cover:

The first oral history of the AFL--from the men who made it happen

"In January of '59 . . . the thought just occurred to me. . . . Why wouldn't it be possible to form a second league? . . . It was like the lightbulb coming on over your head."
--Lamar Hunt, founder of the AFL

From its inauspicious beginnings through its improbable Super Bowl victories and its ultimate demise, the American Football League had a colorful and sometimes bizarre ten-year history that will not soon be forgotten. Going Long takes you back to that thrilling decade with the men who made the AFL--and who made it great. In this unique oral history, 170 voices come together to tell the unbelievable story of that maverick league, a rollicking tale of eight teams that refused to die.

In 1959, the NFL had just a dozen teams, with only two located west of the Mississippi River. For forty years, it had enjoyed total dominance over the gridiron, tackling rival franchises and knocking them out of the game. But a revolution was coming to American football, and it all began with a man named Lamar Hunt, the Texas millionaire who desperately wanted a league of his own. With a team of enthusiastic investors, Hunt fired what he later called "the first cannon shot in what turned out to be the pro football war." It was a war that would rage on for ten rough-and-tumble years.

The AFL officially kicked off with eight teams--derisively dubbed the "Foolish Club"--which included such now-storied franchises as the Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets (then the New York Titans), and Kansas City Chiefs. Though laughed at for years, these underpaid underdogs hung on--through the contentious early days of the league to paychecks bouncing as often as footballs to upset Super Bowl victories--eventually forcing a surrender from the NFL in 1970, changing the face of football forever.

Flavored with wild (and often ribald) anecdotes, inside stories, personal interviews, and never-before-told material, Going Long brings the incredible story of the upstart AFL to life through the words of the players, coaches, owners, and others who lived it--including Joe Namath, Mike Ditka, Bubba Smith, Roger Staubach, Pat Summerall, Curt Gowdy, and many others. Hearkening back to a simpler time in sports, this behind-the-scenes true story reveals the origins of the modern game we know today and how it all began with a fight to the death for professional football supremacy.

In 1960, the maverick American Football League challenged the NFL for gridiron supremacy.

"The idea was, 'We're going to whip the NFL. We're going to wind up as the better of the two leagues.' "
--Val Pinchbeck, AFL staff

Over the next decade, the two opposing leagues battled it out in David-and-Goliath style.

"The NFL was saying the AFL wouldn't last four years. It wouldn't last five years. Six years. . . . Next thing you know, [we] ended up with the Super Bowl trophy."
--Bobby Bell, Kansas City Chiefs 1963-69

In the process, they gave us the game we love today, with wide-open offenses, TV network broadcasts, and Super Bowls we'll never forget.

"They told me to ask Lombardi to kick off again because NBC had missed the second-half kickoff. I said, 'You've got the wrong guy. I ain't doing that.' "
--Pat Summerall, sports broadcaster

Pro football hasn't been the same since.

"Pete Rozelle leaned over to me and whispered, more just to catch my attention: 'This is the best thing that could have happened to pro football.' "
--Lamar Hunt, AFL founder

This is the inside story of the AFL, told in the words of the men who lived it . . .

"The one lasting thing is the feeling, the physical feeling. Emotional, mental, and physical. My body was alive, tickly for God knows how long, that we had won this thing."
--Joe Namath, New York Jets 1965-69

. . . the heroes of the American Football League.

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