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It’s difficult to imagine today—when the Super Bowl has virtually become a national holiday and the National Football League is the country’s dominant sports entity—but pro football was once a ramshackle afterthought on the margins of the American sports landscape. In the span of a single generation in postwar America, the game charted an extraordinary rise in popularity, becoming a smartly managed, keenly marketed sports entertainment colossus whose action is ideally suited to television and whose sensibilities perfectly fit the modern age.
America’s Game traces pro football’s grand transformation, from the World War II years, when the NFL was fighting for its very existence, to the turbulent 1980s and 1990s, when labor disputes and off-field scandals shook the game to its core, and up to the sport’s present-day preeminence. A thoroughly entertaining account of the entire universe of professional football, from locker room to boardroom, from playing field to press box, this is an essential book for any fan of America’s favorite sport.
“A gem . . . Amazing. . . . MacCambridge is a master storyteller.” —Sports Illustrated
“MacCambridge paints a moving account of the game’s rise in popularity as well as American society at large. For anyone who cares about a good story well told, MacCambridge’s America’s Game hits all the right notes.” —Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“An expansive and detailed history of the N.F.L. . . . . MacCambridge deftly integrates well-chosen accounts of games with profiles of league visionaries and tales of television negotiations and internal meetings. . . . MacCambridge combines prodigious interviewing and research with a savvy use of anecdotes.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A thorough, admirably researched and exceptionally interesting account of football’s rise to its present eminence.” —The Washington Post Book World
“MacCambridge’s sweeping history of pro football starts just before WWII, when the National Football League was still largely a regional organization, and ends with Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction at Super Bowl XXXVIII. Though there are plenty of vivid descriptions of remarkable games, what sets this chronicle apart from a slew of other recent football books is the depth and breadth of its stories about players, coaches and owners. . . . This magisterial history is a fitting acknowledgment of the sport’s legacy.” —Publishers Weekly
“America’s Game tells the beguiling story of pro football—from Johnny Unitas’s high-topped shoes to Janet Jackson’s exposed breast. It is both rollicking and scholarly, definitive and distinctive. You will never find more concise or pleasurable portraits of some of the names that are already storied, including Vince Lombardi, Pete Rozelle, Jim Brown, and Joe Namath, and some giants of the game whose luster is harder to recall, including Bert Bell, Kenny Washington, Ed Sabol, and George Allen. It is indispensable to understanding pro football, and a wonderful enhancement to enjoying it.” —Scott Simon, host, NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday
“The authentic story of how the NFL won America’s heart has never been told—until now. Michael MacCambridge weaves a fabulous tale, guiding us through sixty years of professional football. It is a sports story, of course, filled with great games and rich characters. But it is also a big American story. Anyone wondering what makes our vast, violent, adoring, breathless, late-charging, hard-hitting, face-painting, high-fiving, touchdown-celebrating, Super Bowl-partying country tick will find some fascinating answers here.” —Joe Posnanski, The Kansas City Star
“Michael MacCambridge’s prologue begins with the 1958 NFL Championship game, the first pro football game I remember. The league is dramatically different now, and MacCambridge captures every essential aspect of that evolution in this revealing history of what is now America’s most popular sport.” —Bob Costas, host, HBO's Inside the NFL
“Michael MacCambridge has written a lively, highly entertaining book on the ascent of the NFL into the center of America’s DNA. If there is a better book on the subject, I’m not aware of it.” —David Halberstam