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Ten-Gallon War : The NFLs Cowboys, the AFLs Texans, and the Feud for Dallass Pro Football Future
In the 1960s, on the heels of the “Greatest Game Ever Played,” professional football began to flourish across the country—except in Texas, where college football was still the only game in town. But in an unlikely series of events, two young oil tycoons started their own professional football franchises in Dallas the very same year: the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, and, as part of a new upstart league designed to thwart the NFL’s hold on the game, the Dallas Texans of the AFL. Almost overnight, a bitter feud was born.
The team owners, Lamar Hunt and Clint Murchison, became Mad Men of the gridiron, locked in a battle for the hearts and minds of the Texas pigskin faithful. Their teams took each other to court, fought over players, undermined each other’s promotions, and rooted like hell for the other guys to fail. A true visionary, Hunt of the Texans focused on the fans, putting together a team of local legends and hiring attractive women to drive around town in red convertibles selling tickets. Meanwhile, Murchison and his Cowboys focused on the game, hiring a young star, Tom Landry, in what would be his first-ever year as a head coach, and concentrating on holding their own against the more established teams in the NFL. Ultimately, both teams won the battle, but only one got to stay in Dallas and go on to become one of sports’ most quintessential franchises—“America's Team.”
In this highly entertaining narrative, rich in colorful characters and unforgettable stunts, Eisenberg recounts the story of the birth of pro football in Dallas—back when the game began to be part of this country’s DNA.
The merger of the upstart American Football League with the NFL was the result of quintessential American business wheeling and dealing that played out in back rooms. Eisenberg (That First Season) offers that story through the lens of the battle over the professional football territory of Dallas, a city that previously had a team that "didn't even complete a full season... before pulling up stakes." Texas oilman Lamar Hunt founded the AFL and the Dallas Texans after being repeatedly rebuffed for an expansion team by the stodgy, obdurate NFL. The NFL responded by awarding an expansion franchise to a business rival that would become the Dallas Cowboys. The two teams fought over fans and draft choices until the Texans relocated to Kansas City to become the Chiefs. Eisenberg conducted interviews and consulted various media sources to reconstruct the backroom deals and backstabbing in this "David versus Goliath" tale. Sports fans, legal scholars, and western buffs will all enjoy this tale that is part street fight and part homage to American entrepreneurship. Photos. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
October 01, 2012
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