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The League

The League

How Five Rivals Created the NFL and Launched a Sports Empire

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 $13 billion in annual revenue. Yet its current dominance has obscured how professional football got its start.

In The League, John Eisenberg reveals that Art Rooney, George Halas, Tim Mara, George Preston Marshall, and Bert Bell took an immense risk by investing in the professional game. At that time the sport barely registered on the national scene, where college football, baseball, boxing, and horseracing dominated. The five owners succeeded only because at critical junctures in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s 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.

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Genre: Nonfiction / Sports & Recreation / History

On Sale: October 9th 2018

Price: $19.99 / $24.99 (CAD)

Page Count: 416

ISBN-13: 9781541617377

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Reader Reviews


"In The League, John Eisenberg goes deep. He takes us to where it all started, in smoky backrooms, when the NFL-an American monolith now-was more David than Goliath. Carefully researched and astutely narrated, this is a fascinating time-transport trip that tells us as much about America as it does about football."—Gary M. Pomerantz, author of Their Life's Work
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"We have had some terrific owners since the first half of the 20th century but founders are founders, and this is their marvelous story-how they survived the Great Depression and a World War, scrambling to make their player payrolls from week to week. They did it through their incredible character, loyalty to each other, and their love of the game-and they built the greatest sports league in America."—Ernie Accorsi, former General Manager of the Baltimore Colts, Cleveland Browns, and New York Giants
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"Talk about a team of rivals ready to claw each other to death on Sundays and join forces to sell their game from Monday to Saturday, this is it! Halas, Mara, Marshall, Bell, and Rooney-this is their story. It is also the NFL's story. How the men and the league came though the ballyhoo of the 1920s, survived the Great Depression and World War II, and set the stage for football's ascendency as the national game is told by John Eisenberg with humor, heartbreak, and insight. Before the owners were billionaires, they were just a collection of scoundrels who believed in football and money."—Randy Roberts, coauthor of A Season in the Sun
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"John Eisenberg has achieved something remarkable: He has uncovered a riveting story from the early days of the NFL that has yet to be told. Better yet, Eisenberg's deeply researched, put-you-there narrative is written with a novelist's flair-you'll feel like you're breathing the same air as the five men who risked it all to turn a struggling league into the juggernaut it is today. This is a movie waiting to be made."—Lars Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of The Storm and the Tide
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