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Celebrate the American Football League

 

       Below is an open letter that I wrote several years ago to Lamar Hunt.  Sadly, Mr. Hunt, who was Professional Football's greatest pioneer, passed away December 13, 2006.  I asked AFL fans and former players to contact the Hunt family, other AFL owners, and Professional Football officials to request acknowledgement of the AFL in 2009.   Click on the AFL shoulder patch below to see its history.  Following the letter is a summary of activities now planned for the 2009 season.

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438 Maynard Drive
Amherst, New York 14226
November 28, 2005

 
Mr. Lamar Hunt
Kansas City Chiefs
One Arrowhead Drive
Kansas City, MO 64129

Dear Mr. Hunt:

        The year 2009 would have been the 50th season of the American Football League. I know that certain actions, like approval of uniform changes, can take several years, so I would like to respectfully urge that planning start now for a “Celebration of the AFL” in 2009. Below I have listed several suggestions that I believe would properly acknowledge the league that made professional football what it is today.
 
  • Have all former AFL teams who have not already done so introduce “throwback uniforms” to be worn on special occasions.  Thankfully, several teams still wear uniforms essentially unchanged from their AFL versions.
  • For the 2009 season, have all former AFL teams wear a replica of the Chiefs’ shoulder patch worn in the Fourth World Championship Game, modified to read “50 - AFL”:

  • In 2009, have the above logo painted in the end zones of all former AFL teams for the entire season.
  • For one week in the 2009 season, have an “AFL Sunday” on which all former AFL teams would play another former AFL team, all would wear AFL throwback uniforms, and have officials wear replicas of the AFL officials’ uniforms, with red stripes and the AFL logo.
  • Now that there will be another Thanksgiving day game, have one of the Thanksgiving 2009 games played between two former AFL teams in throwback uniforms.
        As founder of the AFL, I know that you are proud of what the league accomplished. Please help its thousands of still-loyal fans, who were a great force in making it successful, to honor and celebrate it with the actions I’ve proposed above.
 

Sincerely,

Angelo F. Coniglio

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          In addition to the above letter to Mr. Hunt, I wrote to other AFL owners, and to Commissioner Roger Goodell.  The letter to Goodell was the same as the one above, all about Celebrating the AFL, with no mention of the NFL.  I got a letter back from an NFL PR functionary, saying "Thank you for your interest in the NFL".  I sent another letter to Goodell, exactly as above.  I got another response from Joe Blow, same answer.  I then sent a letter to Joe Blow, registered, return receipt requested, saying "Since you answered my letters to Mr. Goodell, maybe he'll answer my letter to you."  I enclosed a 12" by 18" REMEMBER the AFL bumper sticker.  No answer.

         At the announcement of the 2009 inductees to the "pro football" Hall of Fame, the league announced that the 2009 Hall of Fame exhibition game would be between the Buffalo Bills and the Tennessee Titans, the first time two former AFL teams would play one another in that game.  Both the Bills and the Titans will wear AFL throwbacks, with the Titans wearing Houston Oilers uniforms.  The game will kick off a season-wide "Celebration of the AFL", in which there will be "AFL Legacy Weekends" during which each of the Original Eight will play another, both wearing AFL throwback uniforms.

         There will be features about the AFL on all networks that carry Professional Football, and according to Sports Business Weekly, "
Some product is expected to be available by the NFL draft on April 25-26 when Reebok’s throwback uniforms will be unveiled. The retro uniforms will also be included in the next version of EA Sports’ “Madden NFL” video game. At last week’s show, WinCraft was displaying distressed wooden signs with old AFL logos, while Winning Streak showed its usual well-crafted selection of AFL pennants."

           
And NFL Films is supposedly going to have special coverage of the AFL.  Maybe they'll even re-do their film of 1969's Super Bowl III, to show that the Jets actually won!

          
Below is a photo showing some of the throwbacks, and one that shows that on-field officials will also be wearing AFL throwbacks.  This is the patch that will be worn by the Original Eight on their throwback uniforms.

         For all games other than the "AFL Legacy" games, each team will wear its own 50-year patch, unfortunately with no AFL logo.  Also, there will be no AFL versus AFL match-up on Thanksgiving.  Below are the teams' 50-year patches, with my version of the 50th Anniversary AFL patch.  The Oilers' patch is the only one that mentions the American Football League.  To see my version of the teams' patches including the AFL logo, click on each team's logo below.

         Although we didn't get exactly we wanted, I'm happy with the exposure the AFL will receive in 2009.  Hopefully, the network announcers will mention long-unheard names like Ode Burell, Tom Sestak, Jim Lee Hunt, Bill Mathis, Johnny Robinson, Gene Mingo, Jacque Mackinnon, Dave Grayson and the many others that spark an AFL fan's memories.  Also, there are reports that the playing fields will be painted similar to the inventive designs that AFL teams used in the past. 

           I want to thank and congratulate all the American Football League fans and former players who called, e-mailed and wrote team and league officials, to request this Celebration of the AFL
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            It's your victory ~
REMEMBER the AFL!!!

 

 

          Twenty years after the 'Foolish Club' formed, a reunion was held, as reported by Larry Felser in the the Buffalo Evening News in June 1979.  Many of the American Football League principals had thoughts that are still shared by AFL fans and former players today, as we celebrate what would have been the AFL's 50th season.
          Jerry Mays said "Nobody hated the NFL like I did.  I live in Dallas now and I still can't root for the Cowboys.  I can root for the Oakland Raiders, believe it or not, but I can't root for the Cowboys."
          Sid Gillman was asked if his '63 Chargers could have beaten the Chicago Bears if a Super Bowl had been played that year.  "Absolutely," said Sid.
          "And the AFL would have won the next year, too" said Al Davis, "because Buffalo had a helluva club with Tom Sestak, Ron Mcdole, George Saimes, Kemp, Billy Shaw, Stew Barber, Cookie (Gilchrist) and those guys.  They would have beaten Cleveland in '64."

         I was pleased that Lamar Hunt mentioned me, but puzzled that his staff couldn't find me.  I've had the same phone number since the 'sixties. ~ REMEMBER the AFL

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2009
American Football League

Legacy Weekend Games

         The following is a list of AFL 'Throwback' games, from websites, teams, and espn.com.  The espn.com story gives the wrong date for the Hall of Fame game: it was Sunday, August 9, as shown below. 
        
All teams did not wear their 1960's uniforms.  The Titans (Jets), Oilers (Titans) and Broncos have original [1960] AFL uniform throwbacks.  Teams selected the uniforms they wanted.  The Texans (Chiefs) [1962], Chargers [1963] and Bills [1964-65] wore uniforms from their AFL Championship years.  The Patriots wore uniforms from their only AFL playoff year [1963], and the Raiders wore uniforms from their first year under Al Davis [1963], rather than the original black and gold. 
        The logos below weren't helmet logos. They're decals from the years corresponding to the teams' throwbacks.

          Note that neither the AFL Texans nor the Raiders ever played the Cowboys, nor did the AFL Titans ever play the Dolphins, but was still good to see the AFL celebrated in this way.
~ REMEMBER the AFL

Sunday, Aug. 9
Canton, Ohio (exhibition)

Bills
vs.
Oilers

Legacy Game photos as Sports Illustrated would have presented them:

 
. . . and as they actually were.

The Buffalo News

cdn.bleacherreport.com

The Buffalo News  

Pro Football Hall of Fame  

          I wonder how many more American Football League fans there would have been, if SI had used color in their AFL stories?


Monday, Sep. 14

Foxborough

Patriots
vs.
Bills

Oakland Alameda

Raiders
vs.
Chargers

Sunday, Sep. 27
Meadowlands

Titans
vs.
Oilers

Sunday, Oct. 11
Arrowhead

Texans
vs.
Cowboys

 
Mile High

Broncos
vs.
Patriots

Sunday, Oct. 18
Foxborough

Patriots
vs.
Oilers

Monday, Oct. 19
Qualcom

Chargers
vs.
Broncos

Sunday, Oct. 25
Arrowhead

Texans
vs.
Chargers

Oakland Alameda

Raiders
vs.
Titans

Sunday, Nov. 1
Meadowlands

Titans
vs.
Dolphins

Sunday, Nov. 15
LP Field

Oilers
vs.
Bills

Oakland Alameda

Raiders
vs.
Texans

Thursday, Nov. 26
Arlington
Cowboys
vs.
Raiders
 

Sunday, Nov. 29
Ralph Wilson
Stadium

Bills
vs.
Dolphins

Sunday, Dec. 6
Dolphin
Stadium

Dolphins
vs.
Patriots

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Below is an ad for the SHOWTIME series about the American Football League.
The series debuted on September 16, 2009.

 

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AFL 50th and original team logo collage from Chris Alvarez.

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THE NEW YORK TIMES SPORTS SUNDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2009

For a League of the Past, the Uniforms Live On
Copyright 2009 by the New York Times. 

Published: December 5, 2009
 
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Chris Schneider/Associated Press


The Broncos’ socks from the team’s American Football League uniform.

It’s every retailer’s dream: a product so hot that demand outstrips supply. The Denver Broncos could not have guessed that this season’s hot product would be one of the ugliest sports socks ever created, the brown-and-yellow, vertically striped leggings that the team wore a half-century ago.
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That does not seem to bother Tim Kellond, who runs the Broncos’ team store in Denver. Kellond has sold more than 1,800 pairs of the high socks at $14.95 and receives about 250 calls a week from customers asking when more will arrive from the manufacturer who, he said, has run out of brown yarn.
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“I thought I ordered a whole lot that would last until next year,” Kellond said. “My problem is deliveries. I get them in and sell them out in two hours.”
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The socks have been an unexpected hit for the Broncos and the N.F.L., which is near the end of its season-long 50th-anniversary celebration of the American Football League. The original eight teams — the Buffalo Bills, the Denver Broncos, the Los Angeles Chargers (now the San Diego Chargers), the Boston Patriots (the New England Patriots), the Oakland Raiders, the Houston Oilers (the Tennessee Titans), the Dallas Texans (the Kansas City Chiefs) and the New York Titans (the Jets) — have been featured in legacy games that have included vintage uniforms.
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The last of these 16 matchups will be Sunday when the Patriots play the Miami Dolphins, who joined the A.F.L. in 1966. The Cincinnati Bengals became the 10th team in 1968. The commemoration of the A.F.L. has provided a much-needed lift for the teams and the league, which were looking for ways to offset the effects of the recession on merchandise sales.
More than two dozen licensees have been making about 100 A.F.L.-related products, which have produced tens of millions of dollars in sales, said Leo Kane, the N.F.L.’s vice president for consumer products.
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“This economy has been challenging, so it’s been a great story for our clubs to have a positive story out there,” Kane said.


CJ Gunther/European Pressphoto Agency

On Sept. 14, the Patriots and Bills wore uniforms like those of the teams in the AFL

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Sales of throwback goods are a small slice of the $3 billion worth of N.F.L. merchandise sold annually, but they are proving to be the biggest sellers this year.
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In New England, sales of A.F.L. and 50th anniversary goods have made up 20 percent of overall sales, compared with 12 percent last year, said Stacey James, a spokesman for the Patriots. The best sellers have been 50th-anniversary T-shirts for $19.95 and red jerseys worn in 1963.
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The Chiefs, who started in 1960 in Dallas, played the Dallas Cowboys this season in a contest billed as “the game that never was” because the teams never faced each other when they were both in Texas. Sales of red sweatshirts with the original Dallas Texans logo have been hot sellers.
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We didn’t have vertically striped socks, but it did very well,” said Jim Fisher, the manager of merchandise services for the Chiefs.
Russ Brand, the chief operating officer of the Bills, said 30 percent of all merchandise sales this year had been 50th anniversary or A.F.L. related.
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“There was a lot of hype, and it’s certainly helped,” he said.
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Bills fans have celebrated their team’s 50th anniversary at an exhibit at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, which has 900 team-related items, many of them from the collection of Greg Tranter, an avid fan.
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The exhibit includes black-and-white photographs of players caked in mud at the old War Memorial Stadium, which had notoriously bad drainage. Tranter, who has 100,000 Bills-related items in all, is clearly fond of the team’s original, silver-and-blue uniform.
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Few exist because old uniforms were given away to high schools at the end of the season, said Tranter, who grew up in Elmira, N.Y., and went to his first Bills game in 1965. His other favorites include a Johnny Hero doll in a 1965 Bills uniform and a straw hat that says “All the Way with O. J.”
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The A.F.L. still resonates with fans not just because of the snazzy uniforms and innovative marketing, but because the league was a scrappy underdog derided as a Mickey Mouse league filled with N.F.L. rejects.
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“The fans definitely felt that the A.F.L. represented something new,” said Angelo Coniglio, who runs RemembertheAFL.com. “The owners were rebels, and they acted the part.”
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That spirit lives on in an HBO Sports documentary from 1995, “Rebels with a Cause: The Story of the American Football League.” The one-hour program will be rebroadcast on Dec. 31 and several times in January.
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“There are a lot of 20-somethings looking at all these funny uniforms and do not dig any deeper,” said Ross Greenburg, the president of HBO Sports. “This truly was the first sports league that became a power on its own.”

            Gee, I wonder haw many copies of the DVDS of  'FULL COLOR FOOTBALL: The History of the American Football League' they might have sold, if they had been available during the AFL's 50th Anniversary celebration?? 
                                                                                                                                       ~
REMEMBER the AFL

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See American Football League Throwback Pennants, Jerseys, Caps, and Signs

 
Patriots Bills Oilers Jets Dolphins Broncos Chiefs Chargers Raiders Bengals

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Last revision: 24 May 2013 ~ Angelo F. Coniglio, nospam.RemembertheAFL@aol.com
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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