In honor of the 50th anniversary of the AFL, I would like to give all of you that were not fortunate enough to witness it, a little info about the revolution of football that the AFL brought to us. It was a very exciting time and, for me, it cemented my love for football.
I liked the NFL and watched a lot of there games on tv, the area I lived in usually got either a Redskins game or a Giants game. There were no local teams, in fact there were no teams in the south at all. The NFL was a very vanilla game unless you were fortunate enough to get a Baltimore Colts game which featured a quarterback by the name of Johnny Unitas(you may recognize that name ..LOL) who at times would just take over a game and throw it all over the field. But mostly, as I remember it, it was "3 yards and a cloud of dust" mentality. Now don't get me wrong, I can appreciate PTR as much as any fan. Our own great Dolphin teams of the 70's were built that way and I would not be bothered at all if our current team played games that way. But the AFL brought us a completely different way of enjoying the game. Watching an AFL game, you just could never tell what might happen next. On a 3rd and 1, they might go for a bomb or an end around. On first down they would actually pass. It was a very "wild west" atmosphere.
The new league gave us more innovations than just the play on the field. Players names were on the back of the jerseys, official time was kept on the stadium clock(not by an official with a stop watch), there was a 14 game schedule(the NFL had a 12 game schedule) there was the 2 point PAT and revenue sharing. Pete Rozelle gets credit for this innovation but it actually started in the AFL. Probably most important of all was the chance it gave so many good football players and coaches. Many of the players in the new league were castoffs that had given up or gone to Canada to play, when given a second chance, or in many cases a first chance, they flourished. Guys like Len Dawson, George Blanda, Babe Parrilli were some that were castoff, coaches like Hank Stram, Sid Gillman, Lou Saban and yes, even Al Davis got there chance here and made the best of it. By actively recruiting black and small college players, they tapped a pool of talent previously pretty much ignored.
These are some of the things that I remember. There are books and web sites galore that you can get much more information from if you are interested. I just wanted to put in my two cents worth and maybe whet someones appetite.