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October 1, 2009
I probably started following pro football in the early 60's, around 1962 or 63 ( I was 11 or 12). Living on Long Island at the time, I had briefly been a NY Giant fan, and of Frank Gifford (who is still one of my favorites ever). But when I discovered that there was a team in Denver, I became a big fan of the Broncos. My mom was born and raised in Colorado, so it was natural for me to make the Broncos my team, and the AFL my league.
Besides having a team in Denver, the league was just more fun. A lot of passing, BIG hitting, and great uniforms (still love the old Pats, Bills, Oilers, Broncos' cartoon bronco helmets - retro uniform days are the best!). And I loved watching and hearing Curt Gowdy and Paul Christman (1st announcer to use "encroachment" instead of off-sides, when it wasn't off-sides) call the games.
Bob Scarpitto, #82 of the Broncos, widely recognized as the #2 all time punter in the AFL, is my favorite player ever. The Broncos weren't on TV much, but when they were, it seemed like most of their scores were on fake punt and runs by him. He also was a decent receiver, who I naturally thought should've been thrown to more. I wasn't happy to see him sent to Boston.
One thing off topic: As much as I liked the uniform, I could never understand why the Patriots were the Patriots and wore red like the British Army. What kind of sense did that make?
Glad to have found your website. I'll visit often. ~ Roger De Korp, Greenwich, NY
October 5, 2009
As I watched chapter 3 of the Full Color Football series, I once again got angry at seeing Lombardi's smug face as he downgraded the Chiefs and the AFL in his post-game interview. God bless old Broadway Joe for wiping that smile off their faces.
October 12, 2009
I must say that I love your website. I missed the Full Color Football series on Showtime, but would like to see if is available on DVD. I grew up in San Diego and was going to Charger games in old Balboa stadium when I was 5-6 years old in 62-63. The Chargers training camp was in our home town of Escondido which was 30 miles north of San Diego. I have 4 brothers and WE WERE HUGE Charger fans, my dad who worked at General Dynamics in San Diego, helped get the players jobs in the off season, since in those days they needed to work in the off-season to pay bills. I can still remember walking up the steps and through the front façade into Balboa Stadium. My father loved Sid Gillman and all of the players, John Hadl, Lance Alworth, Keith Lincoln and Paul Lowe, Earl Faison and Ernie Ladd, Ron Mix, Dave Koucourek.
My brothers and I were treated one day to a training camp dinner with the Chargers when we were 9-10 years old …. It was very exciting. On another day my father and I went over to Coach Gillman’s house to talk football with him. During those early years the Chargers were such a powerful offensive team and so much fun to watch as a little kid. Today I saw the throwback uniforms watching the Denver-Boston game and I instantly remembered them from some of those early games. Keep up the research .. it is so much fun to read.
The NFL has said it's "not planning on" making a DVD available. Another example of how they underestimate the support for anything AFL. Call Dan Masonson of the NFL at (212) 450-2081, or e-mail Dan.Masonson@NFL.com Tell him you'd buy a DVD if one were made. Those who want to buy an AFL referee's cap, with the AFL logo, can tell him that, too.
Thanks for your message, Don. It's a shame that we don't hear the names of those great Chargers (and other AFL players) more often in today's media. ~ REMEMBER the AFL
October 12, 2009
The Denver/Boston Patriot game was the first AFL throwback game I have had the opportunity to watch this year. I found it interesting for two reasons. One is that I was taken back to my childhood and everything was the same except the game was in color. We didn't have a color TV so I could only guess as to what colors the uniforms were in those days. And for the most part I was surprised to find out how different they were from what I imagined.
And until last night, I do not recall ever seeing the referee's uniforms in color. Secondly, some of the teams got the uniform design right from the onset; the Patriots, Chargers (particularly the Chargers), and the Texans nailed it. Others like the Titans/Jets, Bills, and the Broncos evolved over time (particularly the Broncos). One of the best football uniform designs ever, played arguably the worst design ever last night (with the possible exception of Seattle's new alternate home uniform).
Thank you for your efforts to make these games happen. ~ Bob Goode
October 20, 2009
Let me start off by saying this 5 part documentary [Full Color Football] may be the finest sports documentary ever made. It equaled or surpassed anything the great sports documentaries of HBO ever produced ... Showtime and NFL Films will certainly collect their share of Emmys .... Your contributions were outstanding .... Thankyou ... You have always kept the AFL torch burning ...
While it was great and very detailed I still have some minor criticisms:
1) I wish the documentary had shown and explained the Canadian Football League's impact on the AFL, particularly the early years ... The CFL was a very competitive and talented league in the late 50's and many AFL players, as you know, were refugees of the CFL that made contributions in the AFL, besides Gilchrist.
2) More focus on the rest of the AFL stadiums - particularly Frank Youell Field in Oakland, Balboa in San Diego, Bears/Mile High in Denver, Municipal in KC, Nippert in Cinci and the old Orange Bowl in Miami.
3) Disappointed in the lack of AFL championship game footage after the merger of '66, specifically Chiefs-Bills of '66 and Raiders-Oilers in '67.
4) More coverage of the inter-league exhibition/preseason games from '67-'69 ... The Chiefs-Bears footage was famous and great, mentioning the Broncos stunning win over the Lions was fine, as well as the Yale Bowl Jets blowout, but all of those games were huge battles in the overall war and had a great impact in the merger process ... How were they scheduled? Why didn't Green Bay participate?
5) While Paul Brown and Cincinnati "got into the AFL to get into the NFL" it should have been mentioned that Brown's NFL roots were not as longstanding as others ... Cleveland's AAFC origins should have been mentioned as the Browns were once a rebel franchise that whipped the old guard when absorbed in 1950 and continued to dominate into that decade.
6) The Chiefs blowout of the Vikings was pure irony that wasn't mentioned - the Minnesota group that pulled out of the AFL's original 8 to be in the NFL's expansion of '61 was embarrassed by the franchise of the founder of the AFL and 7 years later by the Raiders, the franchise that replaced the Minneapolis entree.
7) The controversy surrounding Len Dawson leading up to SB IV.
8) Correction - The last AFL game wasn't KC- Minnesota but the AFL All-Star Game - small oversight but worth mentioning nonetheless. ~ Todd Kurlan
I agree with every critique you made. Of course, you realize that I was a "grunt" and had nothing to do with the production or editing of the series. I was asked about Paul Brown, and responded that one reason I was glad to see him in the AFL was that his Browns had defeated the establishment in their first try, and dominated the NFL for years, from another league that was ridiculed and demeaned. They didn't use that.
Also, when I quoted Brown as saying he didn't pay $10 million to be in the AFL, I meant it as a knock on Brown for betraying the AFL's identity, not almost a compliment, as they showed it.
I have learned over the years that "freedom of the press" doesn't mean the press has to repeat everything you say, in context. It means they can say whatever THEY want to say. We're lucky it came off as well as it did for the legacy of the AFL, but there was obviously much more to be told. ~ REMEMBER the AFL
October 24, 2009
I just wanted to write to you to say I just finished watching the Showtime documentary on the AFL and it was fantastic. I'm 37 years old so the AFL predates me a few years, but if any kid out there or grown-up wants to know the history of the AFL they should go to your website and watch that documentary for a start. Thank you so much for putting the website together.
I just wanted to tell you that I think your idea of "Major League Football" is a great one. So great, in fact, that I decided to run with it in my APBA Football board game. I have the 2008 season and have the AFL and NFL as two separate leagues. There are 4 four-team divisions just like the NFL of today, but I put Baltimore in the AFL East with Buffalo, New York and New England. I put Miami in the AFL South with Houston, Jacksonville, and Tennessee. Indianapolis is in the AFL North with Cincinnati, Cleveland and Pittsburgh. I'll keep you posted on how the replay goes.
I'm hoping that when the DVD comes out for "Full Color Football" that there will be extra scenes and footage. It looks to me like the version they showed on Showtime was heavily edited. I could be wrong. I expect that once the DVD comes out that it will have lots of more footage and be essentially a "director's cut" which is not uncommon for DVDs these days. Anyways, I just wanted to say hello and thank you and keep up all of the great work.
Sincerely, Jeff Mills
October 24, 2009
After the Jets won the super bowl, their first regular season game after that was in Buffalo the following season and the entire stadium gave the visiting Jets a standing ovation as they entered the field ... a testimony of AFL fan solidarity. I am not sure I have ever witnessed a visiting team being greeted in such a way in any sort or at any time.
I was there for that game, and at the Buffalo airport to greet the Jets the day before. I told the story in my Showtime interview, but they didn't use it. ~ REMEMBER the AFL
December 12, 2009
I was only seven when Kemp played his one game in Calgary for the Stampeders. Dad was GM in Calgary, yet they kept in touch long after those CFL days. That's quite a website you have Ange. That list of AFLers who should be in the HOF is impressive. It seems you really have to "campaign" to get guys in these days. Everyone on the HOF selection committee is a self-proclaimed expert, and probably never saw the AFL. ~ Jim Finks, Jr.
December 15, 2009
Jack Kemp's death has not been easy for me to handle. I missed the 1960's and all of the idealism of John F. Kennedy, and I was wondering who would I have as a member of Generation X? Jack Kemp was that answer for yours truly.
An American Renaissance (by Kemp) is one of my all time favorite books, and I felt the spirit of Kennedy's Profiles in Courage as I read it. I was able to see the effects of Kemp's vision as I lived through the 1980's. Over 18,000,000 good quality jobs were created because of Kemp and William Roth (The Kemp-Roth Tax Cut Act of 1981), and the 1980's would truly be a memorable time in which to have lived. When one says Reaganomics, the nucleus of that is Jack Kemp.
Was Kemp a better Quarterback or a better Policy Maker? Neither - he was superb at both positions. Kemp was truly someone who was able to have his cake and eat it too; he lived a very full life. But the only missing piece of the puzzle in his life was that he never was "one of them" - both in Professional Football and the inner circles in Washington, D.C. But American Football League die-hards such as you and I know better - all Americans and others throughout the world are better off because of what Jack Kemp gave to others.
Former U.S. Senator Robert Dole said it better than anyone else about Jack Kemp: "When I was searching for a vice-presidential candidate, I was looking for a 10. And I ended up getting a 15."
I concur. Sincerely, Karl L. Brown
December 23, 2009
When I was a kid I used to go over to my uncle's house back in the 60's to watch the AFL and NFL games. We each had our favorite teams from both leagues. My uncle liked the Green bay Packers of the NFL and the Oakland Raiders of the AFL. My favorite was the Minnesota Vikings. When the Packers and Raiders played in the Super Bowl our favorites were the Packers. Back then they had the NFL championship and AFL championship games before going on to the Super Bowl. Two distinct leagues. The games were exciting to watch, especially when the Super Bowl determined which was the better league! Jets and the Colts I'll never forget!
Today as far as I'm concerned the Super Bowl is just the way it was before any Super Bowl was played: the NFL Championship. I quit following the games when they merged and became the NFC and the AFC. It's too bad that the two conferences are not distinguished as being the two conferences under the NFL much like the American League and the National League are in Major League baseball.
Occasionally when I happened to be bored and turn to a game I don't know if it is an NFC or an AFC game. The "A" logo or the "N" logo is nowhere to be found. Plus you never see on the tv graphics any indication which conference is playing and emphasize it. Last year when the New York Giants won the NFL Championship I noticed that Payton Manning was cheering on his brother Eli Manning. Don't you think he should have cheering for the conference (AFC) he belongs to? Is there any loyalty to your own conference?
I think it would go a long way if the NFL started to emphasize the two conferences. I certainly would start following the games again.
December 29, 2009
That piece where Steve Sabol Sabol makes his "apology" is from an excellent series NFL Films did around 1999 called "Lost Treasures of NFL Films", where they went into the vaults and showed film that had never been used for any of their many highlight documentaries. Each show lasted 45-plus minutes and one episode was about the AFL, which is where that online footage is from. (They also did an episode on the WFL even though they never covered that league! Go figure.)
Regarding the Super Bowl III film, I think Sabol tried to make up for the way they had portrayed the Jets by producing a short film called "Joe and the Magic Bean". I think it was done shortly after they had produced that Super Bowl III film - certainly before the merger, anyway. But their attempt failed because the film only lasted five minutes and appeared to have been done tongue-in-cheek. I haven't seen that film in years (decades!) but you would probably recognize it if you saw it today. ~ Ron Cruz
My problem is that when something is called "Lost Treasures of the NFL", I don't bother watching it. I had seen Sabol's 'apology' before, and it didn't impress me.
NFL Films has all the old clips of Super Bowl III. They show some in the feature you're talking about. Compile them, edit them, and produce a show that will finally let AFL fans (and former players) bask in the glory of the game. They could do it if they wanted to. They could also produce a series called "The AFL's Greatest Games" ~ Super Bowl III: The Real Version; Super Bowl IV; the Heidi Game; the 1962 AFL Championship; the 1964 and 1965 AFL Championships; the 1968 AFL Championship; all the AFL playoff games in 1969, etc., etc.
The other thing that frosts me about that feature is the condescending way that Sabol talks about the poor equipment and methods the AFL had before "we" (NFL Films) showed them how to do it right. As though NFL Films singlehandedly saved the AFL from ignominy: hypocritical, when you think of how the NFL and NFL Films tried so hard to ignore the early AFL.
Yet it was AFL cinematographers who taught NFL Films how to follow the ball in flight, and who introduced slow-motion for scouting opponents. ~ REMEMBER the AFL
January 9, 2010
Occasionally, I like to surf the net for stories about sports broadcasters because that was my first career hope as a kid. I was looking at the Wikipedia page for Curt Gowdy, who was the premiere "announcer of everything" when I was growing up. I noticed the link to Remember the AFL and clicked on it.
What a wonderful trip down memory lane! My brother and I followed Major League Baseball and pro football especially. We grew up in Victoria, Texas, which is about 120 miles southwest of Houston. We rooted for the Oilers, of course, but like you, we thoroughly enjoyed the American Football League as a whole. The stylish uniforms, with the last names of the players on the back, the two-point conversion, the red-striped game officials, etc. made for quite a package of a pro sports league.
I was too young to remember the Oilers' AFL championships, and my brother was born during Week 3 of the inaugural AFL season. My first real memory of pro football is 1965 -- I remember watching the Bills winning the AFL championship game, and also the NFL postseason of the Packers beating the Colts in overtime in the Western Conference playoff and the Packers beating the Browns 23-12 in the NFL title game.
My brother and I wondered why the AFL champions couldn't play the NFL champions for the "overall" championship of pro football a la the World Series in baseball. I recall our delight, some time during the 1966 season, the first time we saw a network promo for the "World Championship Game -- NFL vs. AFL."
My father was a career sports writer (Houston Post, 1924-49; Houston Chronicle, 1949-53; Victoria Advocate, sports editor, 1953 until his death on February 15, 1971). Toward the end of each season in the late 1960s, he would bring home the AFL media guides sent to the Advocate and give them to my brother and me. We ate up the AFL's history and stats and stars!
On the NFL side, I was a Cowboys fan and my brother was a Packers fan, so a lot of our fan focus in 1966 and 1967 was on the collision course of the two teams in the NFL Championship Game, both won by the Packers. For me, it would have been difficult had the Cowboys beaten the Packers in either or both of the NFL championships, because I was also a very loyal AFL fan. I believed in the AFL and its concept. But when the Cowboys lost, it became an absolute no-brainer to root for the Chiefs against the Packers and the Raiders, who steamrolled the Oilers in the AFL championship game, against the Packers, and then, of course, the Jets against the Colts and the Chiefs against the Vikings. On January 12, 1969, I held a ball-point pen as my "microphone" and did a "radio-style" play-by-play while watching NBC's telecast of the Jets' 16-7 victory over the Colts in Super Bowl III. I was 12 and in 6th grade at the time.
Then came the Chiefs' thorough and resounding 23-7 victory over the Vikings in Super Bowl IV. That made the AFL's claim as a legitimate major sports league a solid and credible one. The Sports Illustrated photo from that game you included in the AFL Hall of Infamy section seems to be doctored more than you indicate. No doubt the black smudging on Bobby Bell's jersey was introduced after the photo was developed. But likewise, if you look closely at Johnny Robinson's left shoulder, you will see that the red of the jersey extends beyond what it should, also blotting any inclusion of the AFL 10-year patch.
After the last-ever AFL event, the AFL All-Star Game at the Astrodome in January 1970, we were disappointed the American Football League would be no longer exist. We wondered why pro football couldn't adopt major league baseball arrangement and allow two leagues to exist in a cooperative way with their respective champions facing off in a World Championship Game, or Super Bowl, and their all-stars meeting in an interleague "Pro Bowl." Thank you for reminding me and AFL fans everywhere of the political reasons for the consignment of the AFL to the dustbin of history. (In the early 1970s, the NFL thought it was being so "innovative" when it introduced an overtime period to break ties in regular-season games; as I recall, it came down to, in my opinion, a needless discussion, of overtime VS. the two-point conversion. "We don't need the two-point conversion BECAUSE we have overtime" was the basic comment of the Commissioner and many owners and GMs at the time. Ha-ha -- about 20 years later, the two-point conversion was introduced to the NFL AND overtime was retained! The AFL influence lives on!)
Thanks also for reminding about the Thanksgiving Day games in the AFL.
I later followed in my father's footsteps and had a 10-year sportswriting career, mostly with the Waco Tribune-Herald, for whom I covered Cowboys home games in 1976 and 1977. But after a conversion experience, I switched from the sports news to the Good News and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1996. In a way, I am fulfilling those first career hopes -- I am honored and privileged to announce the Good News of Jesus Christ on EVERY given Sunday!
Thanks again for a thorough and extremely informative website that helped me to
Remember the AFL (and all the emotions of doing so). God bless you and your family.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Michael Lyons
January 16, 2010
I've been on your mailing list for years and years and have watched the evolution of this website into something that I treasure. After having watched Showtime's AFL retrospective (twice!), a flood of memories were unleashed.
The first AFL game I remember watching was the 1962 overtime championship game (I was 8), but the first game in which I had a real rooting interest was the 1964 game between the Bills and the Chargers. I was for the Bills only because the name Elbert Dubenion caught my ear. I liked the name, so I decided to root for Buffalo. Strange. Similarly, I became a Raiders fan in 1966 only because the very first game I saw in color was a 28-28 tie between the Raiders and the Jets. I just liked the way the sun glinted off the silver helmets.
My dad and I had our own NFL-AFL mini-battle (friendly) for years. After the Bills won the 1964 game, I made the full plunge as a fan of the AFL. The next day, the Browns upset the Colts, 27-0, in the NFL championship game and I asked dad why the Bills and the Browns couldn't play each other. Dad gave me the standard NFL superiority line, but I was undeterred. When they finally got around to an "NFL-AFL Championship Game", I was so sure that the Chiefs would surprise the Packers that I bet my dad a quarter (!) on the game. The next year was even worse when the Packers beat my Raiders. Dad kept chiding me about being an AFL fan, but I had converted my neighborhood friends into AFL fans, too, so our house would be full of kids on Sunday trying to change the channel to, say, the Bills-Jets game or the Raiders-Chargers game. Usually, dad was busy doing other stuff, so most times,
there wasn't a struggle.
However, if the Falcons were on (We lived in Atlanta) then I had to sit sullenly through their game ( most often a lopsided loss) and hope there was a 4:00 AFL game on. Anyway, dad got his comeuppance after Super Bowl 3 and, of course, you know that story better than anyone. It was especially funny when Earl Morrall missed the wide-open Jimmy Orr.... You should have heard my dad screaming at the replay. You see, both he and Earl Morrall went to Michigan State.
I've remained a Raiders fan through thick and thin ( a lot of the thin lately), but have equally reserved a soft spot in my heart for the remainder of the original AFL teams (except the Broncos . . . Rob Lytle's uncalled fumble in the 1977 AFC championship game still rankles).
Thanks again for the great website. ~ Rick
Thanks, Rick: If you really want to rattle your father's cage, remind him that Atlanta had a chance to be in the American Football League, but the NFL caused Rankin Smith to renege on his agreement with the NFL. Instead, the AFL franchise went to Miami. So all those winning seasons, playoff appearances, and Super Bowl wins could have been Atlanta's. ~ REMEMBER the AFL
January 20, 2010
Congratulations on adding Paul Christman and Charlie Jones to the AFL Hall of Fame and congratulations to the both of them on being designated.
I can remember sitting in my parents' living room during the 1960's and watching AFL games listening to them describe such greats as Paul Lowe and Keith Lincoln, Charlie Hennigan, Jerry Mays and Fred Arbanas, Charlie Tolar "who really did fight oil well fires in the off season with Red Adair", Otis Taylor, Buck Buchanan, Ernie Ladd, Goldie Sellers, Frank Tripucka, and so many others too numerous to mention with such color and flair that 45 years later it still seems like yesterday to me.
They certainly deserve whatever accolades they receive. ~ Joe Canino
February 3, 2010
I have finished watching Full Color Football. I thought it was well done. I appreciated John Madden's closing comment that you don't forget the neighborhood you came from; therefore, if you came from the AFL, you don't forget the AFL.
There is an expression, "History is written by the winners." Full Color Football, along with the 50-year AFL patch and retro uniforms worn by AFL-originated teams in several NFL games in 2009 and the recognition of such at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, would not have come about without the zealous diligence of you and almost literally only a handful of others who have remained dedicated to the preservation of the AFL's good name.
On Saturday evening, I also watched the NFL Network for several hours while it ran the NFL Films highlights of the early Super Bowls. I quit after Super Bowl XII; the marathon actually continued until mid-afternoon Sunday when the Super Bowl XLIII film was aired. Especially curious were the programs for III and IV; there was a forced sense of balance in the Super Bowl III film, too much (for a half-hour film) was devoted to John Unitas, who helped the Colts to a mop-up touchdown late in the game. The Super Bowl IV film was very complimentary of the miked-up Hank Stram and the Kansas City Chiefs, but no mention was made of the importance of the game for the AFL (I don't recall one mention of the American Football League in the movie.) It was as if the NFL powers-that-be were saying, "Well, give the devils their due; they're an NFL team now anyway." History is written by winners. The NFL had won by being able to consign the AFL name to the dustbin of history. Now the NFL would claim innovative coaches like Stram as "one of our own" without acknowledging that his "neighborhood" had been on "the other side of the tracks."
Full Color Football acknowledged the interest generated from the match-ups in the post-merger AFC Central Division -- the Steelers-Browns rivalry continuing along with the Paul Brown-owned, Ohio-based Cincinnati Bengals. What the series did not mention, and what the media never mention is the more intriguing AFC East. Just one full season was played after the AFL's New York Jets defeated the NFL's Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III before the two teams would become twice-a-year rivals in the AFC East. Add in the fact that Don Shula, the Colts' head coach in Super Bowl III, became head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 1970 and would also be facing the Jets (as well as his former team, the Colts) twice a year because the Dolphins were also assigned to the AFC East.
Full Color Football brought to the light of day the fact that all the Raiders' Super Bowl championship rings bear the AFL logo, despite the fact that all their Super Bowl victories occurred after they were absorbed into the NFL. Al Davis knows that history is written by the winners.
I don't like to cast clouds of doubt upon the efforts of championship teams. But what Full Color Football showed me was the hatred the NFL continued to harbor for the AFL even after the NFL had won the war, getting to keep its name, its commissioner, its rules, while adding 10 teams it had no part in developing (and even openly tried to destroy) to its fold, while the AFL's name would be erased. You've chronicled the media bias on the Remember the AFL website, along with the bias of the Pro Football Hall of Fame against AFLers. But was that hatred so deep that it motivated certain powerful NFL people to set in motion a series of encounters that would wind up even affecting the outcomes of games, even championship games?
I do find it curious that in the 1970s -- the first post-AFL decade -- half of the Super Bowls were played without an AFL-originated team competing (Super Bowls V, IX, X, XIII, XIV). All five of those championships were won by the AFC team (Colts in V, Steelers in IX, X, XIII, and XIV). And the Steelers had been an absolutely miserable team prior to the merger. The Colts, who were embarrassed by the AFL Jets in Super Bowl III, were the NFL's first AFC Champions and won a controversially officiated game from the NFC Champion Cowboys, whose birth was forced by the AFL and the Texans. History is written by the winners.
The Dolphins won two Super Bowls, coached by non-AFLer Don Shula, the "victim" of the Jets' win. The only true AFL-legacy Super Bowl victory in the 1970s was the Raiders in Super Bowl XI, over the Vikings, the franchise the Raiders replaced at the beginning of the AFL. Three of the four Steelers' Super Bowl victories during the 1970s were aided by bad calls that went in their favor at crucial moments. There were only three already-existing NFL franchises that joined the AFL teams in forming the AFC. The odds against half the NFL championships in that first merged decade being won by won by those three teams are high; the odds increase when you factor in that the Browns never made the Super Bowl. History is written by the winners.
The AFC West was the only division made up exclusively of former AFL franchises. They had some battles in the 1970s. But, to me, the bitterest battles of that decade, and of all time in Pro Football, were the games matching the Steelers against the Raiders. The Raiders still claim the Steelers iced the Three Rivers Stadium turf on purpose prior to the 1975 AFC Championship game, won 16-10 by the Steelers. Three years earlier, the Steelers won a playoff game from the Raiders when Franco Harris, the most overrated running back in pro football history, just happened to be in the way of a deflected fourth-down pass in the closing seconds. The whole Steeler mystique was built by NFL Films and the media on that play, which was nothing more than a lucky bounce.
At any rate, thanks again, Ange, for keeping the AFL legacy alive. Any football fan who glosses over the AFL will never appreciate what the NFL is today.
God bless you and keep you. ~ Your brother in Christ, Fr. Michael Lyons
Even I never knew that Davis had the AFL logo on the Raiders' 1970's Super Bowl rings. I hope to lift photos of them to put on my site. You make many valid points, which I agree with wholeheartedly.
You say "Three of the four Steelers' Super Bowl victories during the 1970s were aided by bad calls that went in their favor at crucial moments."
The stats are all there if someone would check them. I believe that for the first ten years after the merger, if you tallied the total number of penalties called against former AFL teams when they played old-line NFL teams, against the total number of penalties by old-line NFL teams when they played former AFL teams, the great advantage went to the NFL teams.
I saw this as it was happening, and the argument I got was "the AFL was not as disciplined as the NFL". Baloney! It was the same effect as Michael Jordan never fouling out. Even subconsciously, and even by former AFL officials, when a close play was involved, the NFL usually got the call.
The effects of all the negatives you cite are also carried into the Hall of Fame, where a player like Billy Shaw, who never played a down in the NFL had to wear an NFL blazer at his induction.
Steve Sabol admitted on film thirty years later that he was a Colts fan and that he had purposely skewed the SB III highlight film. He half-heartedly apologized, but that doesn't change the film. And they call SB III and SB IV two of "the NFL's greatest games". They actually take credit for the AFL's existence, as though the idea sprang full-grown from Pete Rozelle's brow - ten new teams, coast-to-coast football, TV and gate revenue sharing, the Super Bowl, all of it credited to "the winners".
February 5, 2010
Hello AFL fans and former players:
CBS-TV is showing a one-hour condensation of the five-hour NFL Films history of the ten-year existence of the American Football League, tomorrow, Saturday, February 6, at 3 PM eastern time.
Taking out the 20 minutes for commercials, that works out to about four minutes per year, to cover George Blanda and two Oiler championships, Charlie Hennigan catching 101 passes the year after the Broncos' Lionel Taylor set the Pro Football record with 100, Charlie Tolar, and Billy Cannon; the Texans-Oilers classic longest Professional Football Championship game in history, Len Dawson, Abner Haynes, Jim Tyrer, Sherrill Headrick, Chris Burford, Fred Abanas; the Chargers' super 1963 team with Lincoln and Lowe, Lance Alworth, Earl Faison, Walt Sweeney, Ron Mix, the Chargers' unbelievable combo of Hadl to Alworth; the Bills' two AFL Championship years when they didn't allow a rushing touchdown for 17 straight games, Jack Kemp, Elbert Dubenion, Cookie Gilchrist, Billy Shaw, Tom Sestak, Ron McDole, Tom Day, Harry Jacobs, John Tracey and Mike Stratton, George Saimes, Butch Byrd, Booker Edgerson, and Lou Saban; Mike Holovak's always-dangerous Patriots with all-time scorer Gino Cappelletti, Babe Parilli, Larry Eisenhauer, Earthquake Hunt, Jim Nance, Chuck Shonta, Jim Colclough and Tommy Addison; the Raiders' Daryle Lamonica, Fred Biletnikoff, Jim Otto, Wayne Hawkins, Ben Davidson, Cotton Davidson, Clem Daniels, John Rauch; the Broncos' Gene Mingo, Goose Gonsoulin, Floyd Little, Rich Jackson, and Larry Kaminski; the 'Heidi' game, Namath throwing for 4,000 yards, the Jets destruction of the over-rated Colts with "NFL rejects" Don Maynard and Johnny Sample, with TITANS Curley Johnson, Bill Mathis and Larry Grantham, along with Joe Namath, Matt Snell, Emerson Boozer, Jim Turner, Gerry Philbin, Verlon Biggs, Winston Hill, Bob Talamini, Paul Rochester; the Chiefs' demolition of the VIkings, Hank Stram getting into the Hall of Fame nine years AFTER the coach who lost to him in SB IV, 65-toss-power-trap, Otis Taylor, Johnny Robinson playing with broken ribs and getting a fumble recovery and a pick, Mike Garrett, Ed Budde, Jim Lynch, and the 1,331 players I didn't name above, who were good enough to play for the league that was the genesis of modern Professional Football, etc., etc., etc.
Think they'll get that all in?
I sent the above e-mail to American Football League fans and former players. After seeing the CBS program, the answer to my question at the end of my e-mail is: "NOT BY A LONG SHOT!!!". A show purporting to tell the history of the AFL had no mention of Sid Gillman, Lance Alworth, the Chargers, the Oilers, who won two championships, the Bills, who won two championships, Cookie Gilchrist, Lou Saban, etc. etc.
Not surprising that this JOKE of a show was presented by the network that was so unprofessional that they would not give American Football League scores on their broadcasts of the other league's games!
Unfortunately, now that this one-hour version exists, it will probably be shown over and over again in the future, and become the defining description of the AFL. What a shame.
~ REMEMBER the AFL
February 6, 2010
Please take my name off your distribution list. There are always negative comments in your emails. You are not happy that Floyd Little was elected in the the Hall of Fame. You are bitter because more have not. CBS shows a nice program on the AFL and you are critical of the "effort". Life is too short to read downer emails. ~ Jim
You are off the list, and good luck. I did not say I was not happy for Little. Look up "congratulations". I said more AFLers should be in, and so they should. If I hadn't been such a "downer" it's very possible that Floyd Little would not have been selected, and there would have been no "History of the AFL". Can you honestly say that the Oilers, Bills, and Chargers were not significant enough to be mentioned in CBS' "nice program?"
February 7, 2010
First of all, it was great to see Floyd Little inducted (finally) into the HOF. I'm a Niners' fan (though too young to remember the AAFC, I've found that it's history and the AFL's history run almost parallel in many respects), so obviously I was rooting for Jerry Rice as well.
Anyway, I'm currently reading the book "America's Game" by Michael McCambridge, who as you know was also featured during the Full Color Football series. In Chapter 14 of the book, he touches on why the Merger was finalized as it was rather than with separate leagues under a common football banner, much as baseball is structured.
I've often felt that the AFL should have remained as a separate entity with its own rules, again much as the American League in baseball is. But as the book points out, the AFL would have been shortchanged in such an arrangement. The NFL had ten teams in major markets, compared to just one (the Jets) in the AFL. Continuing the 16-10 team format would have only served to enhance the influence of the NFL while the AFL would probably still have struggled for recognition.
Interestingly, besides the ranting Paul Brown, Al Davis pushed for a full merger too. While the book doesn't discuss the sentiments of other AFL owners toward the final merger agreement, my guess is that most AFL owners wanted a full merger.
If you have any insights you can share from your unique experiences and point-of-view, please do. Perhaps you can post this on your site Guestbook; I've noticed other comments to the effect of why couldn't the AFL have remained a separate league. And again, until just yesterday when reading Chapter 14 of McCambridge's book, I had wondered the same thing.
Thanks and see you on Facebook and at your site! ~ Jack A.
The American Football League pioneered gate and television revenue sharing. That would have helped balance the books in an unbalanced league. As "expansion" teams were added, they could have gone into the AFL, keeping that league's "junior" flavor and always giving it a reason to prove itself against the old-line NFL.
We would have had what we never had - an All-Star game between AFL stars and those of the other league - which probably would have been played with the one-time intensity of the World Championship games, for the fans and players as well. We would have always had Super Bowls between AFL teams and NFL teams. (Although today's would be between the AFL's Saints and the NFL's Colts!) The Super Bowl would STILL be more about the game and less about commercials, halftime shows, etc. Half the country would be rooting for the "junior" AFL with all its expansion teams to beat the old-line NFL which would not have changed for decades (just as it hadn't before the AFL came along.)
Davis may have pushed for a "full merger" that gave the AFL the same film rights, advertising packages (AFL-NFL Properties), a Super Bowl, etc. but I doubt he wanted the AFL to lose his identity, regardless of how McCambridge spins it. The AFL logos on the 70's Raiders' Super Bowl rings bear witness to that.
Finally, if three teams had to switch for balance, why didn't THEY join the AFL, and give up THEIR identity (for a huge monetary payoff, which they got anyway) , instead of having TEN AFL teams lose theirs?
When you, or McCambridge, or the late Lamar Hunt say "the 10-team, small market AFL would have struggled for recognition", you're doing it from the distant perspective of 1966, BEFORE Super Bowls III and IV. Do you think the AFL would have struggled for recognition after the Jets beat the Colts and the Chiefs beat the Vikings? Imagine that the Colts had beaten the Cowboys in 1970, not in the Super Bowl, but in the NFL championship game, and that in Super Bowl V, they had played the AFL Champion Raiders (who, of course, would have been 24 point underdogs).
Oh, what might have been. ~ REMEMBER the AFL
February 7, 2010
Was Floyd Little the best player from the AFL to put into the HOF on the
50th Anniversary? I know any AFL player getting recognition is good
but just between you and me did you have a favorite for this year?
It seems that when someone says that another AFL great should have been in before Little, it is taken as a knock against him. Little should have been in the HOF twenty years ago. But Johnny Robinson should have been inducted in 1977, as soon as he was eligible. Others who should have gone in before Little include Daryle Lamonica (2nd-best to Otto Graham in won-lost percentage, won as many Super Bowls as Graham did), Abner Haynes (All-time AFL all-purpose yards), Gino Cappelletti (All-time AFL scoring), Lionel Taylor (first receiver in Professional Football history to catch 100 passes in a season), and Charlie Hennigan (first to break Taylor's record, and held many Professional Football receiving records for 35 years after his retirement). All those guys should have been in at least thirty years ago.
Further, they all should have been in before 2008 AFL inductee Emmitt Thomas, who was not as good as his teammate Johnny Robinson. That doesn't reflect on Little or Thomas, but on the unfair, illogical and politicized way the Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors make their choices.
Little and Thomas, after all, played most of their careers in the big, bad, NFL, while the players I cite above were true stars mainly in the AFL, which the (seems like) teenagers on the selection committee don't remember. ~ REMEMBER the AFL
Ange.....thanks for keeping us informed about the old AFL.
....sorry that my name and some of my teammates' names were not more prominently mentioned [in the CBS-TV program]. ~ All the best, Pete Gogolak, Bills '64 and '65
Thanks for the e-mail, and thanks for the memories! Like many of the AFL's innovators, you have received far too little credit for revolutionizing Professional Football's kicking game.
February 14, 2010
Just viewed the 5 part program on the 10 years of the AFL. Excellent, A+, absolutely great viewing. Brought back many memories, I was in junior and high school during those years. Recall the first two Super Bowls (championships) and then the greatest pro game I have watched 1/12/69 when the Jets won. Recall a neighbor talking about the "Mickey Mouse league" and then how he had nothing to say when the Chiefs defeated the Vikings.
Lived in Lincoln NE and listened to the Chiefs radio network with if I recall Tom "the parrot" Hedrick and Bill Grigsby who still is on the Chiefs radio broadcast on occasion. Anyway Grigsby had some rather pointed comments on the radio after the Chiefs won something along the lines of what Green Bay and Vince Lombardi could go do. Recall buying Pro Football Weekly issue after the Jets won and their all-pro lineup with both leagues being represented, Namath, Philbin, Bobby Bell, George Webster possibly.
Nebraska had an AFL connection in that an exhibition game was played between the Raiders vs Broncos at North Platte High School. The community is between 15,000 -20,000.
Enough rambling on my part. Continued success with your site and Remember the AFL. ~ Chris Silvey DDS
February 28, 2010
I am a life long Kansas City Chiefs fan, and I want to thank you for saying what I have felt since the AFL-NFL merger. Otis Taylor, Jerry Mays, Johnny Robinson, Jim Tyrer, Ed Budde, Abner Haynes, Chris Burford, Curly Culp, Fred Arbanas, Jerrel Wilson, and EJ Holub should have all been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame two decades ago. The same could be said for several dozen other AFL stars, such as “Tombstone” Jackson, Jack Kemp, Tom Sestak, George Saimes, Houston Antwine, and Dave Grayson, just to name a few.
I have, however, been pleased with the actions of the veterans committee over the past couple of years (Emmitt Thomas, Floyd Little, Ralph Wilson, etc.) Those who consider the AFL an inferior league must enjoy low-scoring, run-dominated, segregated football. The “good old boys network” died with Lombardi and his power sweep. Godspeed in your efforts to give the AFL and its great stars their well-deserved and long overdue recognition.
E Mark Skidmore
Unfortunately, if they put one AFL player in every other year, most of them (and their fans) will be dead before all the deserving players are enshrined. ~ REMEMBER the AFL
April 6, 2010
It really tees me off to hear the Arena Football League call itself the AFL! They couldn't hold a candle to the real thing. ~ Mike, OK
April 18, 2010
I'll admit from the get go that I was an NFL guy in the 1960's. Not by initial choice. I remember have a Buffalo Bills card around 1963. But a kid who was a year older (I was in grade 7) told me the AFL "sucked", so I quickly became an NFL fan. I rooted for the Colts and Packers. I was always impressed by Vince Lombardi. The Packers were clearly superior to all other teams in both leagues.
My first AFL game was the Bills/Chargers 1964 championship; the "Mike Stratton game". It was exciting and well played. Frankly, a better game than the Colts/Browns blowout. However, I still watched NFL games, sort of like a religious thing back then. Hey, people then were loyal to Ford or Chevy, Cronkite of Huntley/Brinkley, etc. Passions were greater.
Anyways, the first two Super Bowls had us NFL guys beating our chests. We were arrogant. I think the NFL was probably better than the AFL at the time, but probably not by a lot. [Some NFL teams were better than some AFL teams, and some AFL teams were better than some NFL teams at the time.] Also, the common draft starting in 1967 quickly evened out the Leagues. [<That was pure propaganda by the NFL and their sycophants, to take the sting out of the losses by two consecutive 'greatest teams in Professional Football history' to the Jets and the Chiefs. Neither of those AFL champions had any significant 'common draft' players. They crushed the Colts and Vikings with AFL-drafted or developed players, some of whom were veterans from the league's first year.] Looking back at old videos, the Colts, Jets, Chiefs and Vikings should have been pick 'em or at most three point either AFL or NFL lines.
I now believe that they should have kept both leagues, with one Commissioner and a common draft. [Amen!] No raiding like in the earlier years. Please note that the Steelers and Colts would have remained in the NFL. That was five Super Bowls during the 1970's. Obviously we cannot predict what would have happened under a two-league system. But the current league is bland and purely entertainment. I remember those Chiefs/Raiders rivalry games in the late 1960's and early 1970's. Pure emotion and hatred, with respect thrown in for good measure. [The same can be said for the four AFL-NFL World Championship Games.]
Keep up the good work. Hopefully some of the old AFL guys will get inducted into the HOF. [Don't hold your breath.] Robinson, Daniels, and many others were great players.
April 19, 2010
Thanks. I still respectfully disagree to some extent about the role of the "Common Draft". Perhaps you are correct about it not having influence on the Jets fortunes. But, as for the Chiefs; if you take Lanier, Lynch, Thomas, and Marsalis out of that defense, they go from All-Time Great, to merely very good. Anyways that's what guys like us do to enjoy life.
The Texans/Chiefs consistently out-scouted, outsmarted, and out-signed the NFL's scouts. I have no reason not to believe that if there had still been separate drafts, they would have got those four players, or four others of equal quality. The Chiefs made Lanier the first black middle linebacker. Would the NFL have signed him with that stipulation? To say that they won the World Championship because of the common draft ignores the fact that they had AFL veterans such as Dawson, Arbanas, Hayes, Tyrer, Bell, Buchanan, Robinson (who was better than Thomas and should have been in the Hall of Fame years prior to Thomas), Budde, Stenerud, Wilson, Mays, Garrett, and Taylor, many of whom they signed from under the NFL's nose. The MYTH that the common draft validated the AFL is one reason modern selectors for the PFHOF think they can ignore greats like Robinson who were signed in the early AFL years. ~ REMEMBER the AFL
June 11, 2010
Your website is much fun and brings back great memories. I was in grammar school during most of the 1960s and the AFL was always the preferred league in our neighborhood. Our heroes were Charlie Tolar, George Blanda, Billy Cannon, and the rest of the Houston Oilers, as that was the closest team and they were on TV the most in our area (Birmingham, Alabama). Of course, when Joe Namath signed with New York, we all became Jets fans. They played a few preseason games at Legion Field after Joe signed, and even played a regular-season game against the Patriots in 1968 (actually was a Pats home game).
Sincerely, Mark Hayne
August 14, 2010http://www.conigliofamily.com/Bills.htm
My Dad was an original Pats' season ticket holder. He took my brother and me to their first game against the Denver Broncos at BU field. I was 10 and my brother was 7. I remember the public address announcer (was it Jim Pansullo?) announced each player's name and his college. Gene MIngo sticks out because he did not attend college. We have travelled to BU field, Fenway Park, Boston College (fire in the stands), Harvard Stadium (snow not shoveled off the seats), Schaffer Stadium (opening night and the horrific traffic jam) and now Gillette Stadium. How many original season ticket holders still go to the games? We are looking forward to a tough 2010 schedule. Although the Super Bowl wins are supreme, my greatest thrill was being in Miami to see them beat the Dolphins in 1985. The tragedy is that we sit in front of Gino C, who deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Don't do to him what the NBA did to Dennis Johnson. Give credit where credit is due. ~ Robert A. Faneuil
August 21, 2010
Thanks for such a great site and for keeping the memory alive.
I wish you had AFL merchandise as well.
I grew up and into the AFL as a Buffalo Bills fan in Giants/Jets land downstate and because of the AFL games and Jets-Giants being blacked out I became enthralled by seeing every Bills game from the Rockpile and other stadiums and grew into a Bills/AFL fan.
I wish the AFL had never merged and we still deserve more respect from the HOF and NFL today!
September 1, 2010
Pete Gogolak will always hold a special place in my thoughts about former Bills. During the 1964 Thanksgiving holiday, my mom spilled a bowl of gravy in the kitchen and "all hell broke loose" to put it very mildly. My father was still furious at us kids hours later when the Bills' game began. My mother, in the meantime (not a football fan), was having a well-earned nap.
Anyway, as you well know, the Bills were playing in San Diego that day and needed the game to stay in first place. It all came down to a 33-yard FG attempt by Gogolak in the final seconds of the game. In those days, 33 yards was not considered easy. I was praying Gogolak would make it because I just knew my father's mood would improve immeasurably.
And as you know, Gogolak made it and did some kind of acrobatic handstand or whatever at midfield. I doubt if he ever kicked a more important FG in his career, at least with the Bills. And yes, there was peace and harmony in our home for the rest of the holiday, thanks in no small part to Pete Gogolak's clutch FG.
I'm sure I'll take this memory to the grave with me. And I'm very pleased Pete is in the AFL HoF. ~ J. Miklitch
February 12, 2011
I just wanted to write you to compliment you on your teriffic website about the AFL. I was born in September of 1968 (the same month that Tex Maule wrote his famous article praising the talents of Gary Cuozzo and Jack Concannon) so I don't "remember the AFL" personally, but I am an AFL history buff and scarf it up.
I actually came into this world as a Chicago Bears fan (help!). I didn't really discover the AFL until high school, when I had the creative urge to invent my own pro football team, complete with history and players. I pictured a team in a far-flung locale and I just saw the AFL as a good fit. So I put them in the fledging league and crafted a team history around the history of the AFL. It was then that I became interested in the history of the league and began seeking out all the information I could find on it.
That was years ago, but my interest never wavered. I first read about your site in the book Remember the AFL, which had borrowed your title. I went to it for the first time after reading the book and was blown away. Thanks for this invaluable resource.
Once again, you have a great site. Keep up the good work!
PS - Did Tex Maule really write the article I mentioned above? I mean, I know he did, but how did said article not get him run out of the profession? A 3rd grader writing "my team rulez, your team droolz" can put more intelligence and professionalism into that one statement than Maule put into that article (may he Rest In Peace, of course). ~ Regards, Daniel Grillo
Yes, Tex Maule wrote that gushing praise of Concannon, Cuozzo, et. al. HERE.
The fact that other sportswriters around the country venerated Maule and emulated his hatred of the AFL is, I believe, why former AFL players as good as some NFLers in the Hall of Fame have been excluded, and will likely never get in. Maule's bile infected a generation of writers, and the current PFHOF selectors refer back to old stories when evaluating former AFL stars.
Maule's bias seems obvious, but amazingly, many accepted his crap without question, never stopping to remember that Maule once worked for Pete Rozelle and the Rams.
You're more charitable than I. I hope that wherever Maule "rests", he is condemned to watch endless reruns of Super Bowls III and IV. ~ REMEMBER the AFL
September 19, 2012
Sudden-Death Sabol secreted AFL Films, edited NFL Films to diminish the AFL and I don't mourn his passing.
Sabol is being praised as being responsible for creating the "mythology of the NFL", and that he was. In doing so, he put down the American Football League at every chance (witness his clearly NFL-biased Super Bowl III show), even while using such AFL innovations as miked players and color slow motion, and taking credit for the ideas as his own.
September 22, 2012
I've been an avid fan of the AFL since the early days and proud that you keep the memory of that wonderful league alive.The reason I am leaving you this message is to inform you that endorsing Yesteryearsports.com is something I take issue with. I use to order from HR Derby up until a couple of months before they went out of business. I was able to purchase all my AFL jerseys from them. When I saw there was another site selling throwback jerseys I was delighted.
I paid over $ 250.00 in Feb 2012 for a throwback from Yesteryearsports.com and here it is Sept 2012 and still haven't recvd it and probably never will. I've heard every excuse under the sun from the owner of this site (emails to prove it) and still I am waiting. I contacted the Better Business Bureau located in NY and also the Federal Trade Commision for his deceitful on-line practices. I heard back yesterday from the BBB located in Amherst NY and was informed this (business) would not respond to them, so they've listed my complaint on line. I am waiting to hear from the FTC and see what alternatives I am left with.
I tell you this because I do not want to see any other people fall for this scam this owner seems to be perpetrating. He held me off for months with all kind of reasons he could not get the jersey to me in a timely manner. In his last e-mail to me, he asked for more money in order to get my order complete. I was already in the whole at this point and thought it would be unwise to send more, so I contacted these 2 agencies to let them know of the situation and avoid more people falling for it.
Again I would like to thank you for keeping the memory of this wonderful alive, but advise you to be careful of who is endorsed.
A F L
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like, if you're an AFL fan.
You have the permission of the American Football League Hall of Fame. Please credit/link to: http://www.remembertheafl.com
Last revision: 10 February 2013 ~ Angelo F. Coniglio, nospam.RemembertheAFL@aol.com