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The League

How Five Rivals Created the NFL and Launched a Sports Empire
Written by: John Eisenberg
Narrated by: Daniel Thomas May
Length: 11 hrs and 50 mins
5 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

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 horse racing 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 listen for any fan of our true national pastime.  

©2018 John Eisenberg (P)2018 Hachette Audio

What the critics say

"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)

"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)

"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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  • Daniel Mosca
  • 2018-11-08

what a great book. loved it completely.

had a great time reading it. Had some history I was unaware of in the NFL. if you're a football fan of must-read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Paul
  • 2019-01-24

Must for NFL fans

Great historical tale of how not only League was shaped but also how the Rules of the Sport were shaped for the better. A must for any NFL fan, especially fans of the Bears, Eagles, Giants, Redskins, and Steelers.

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  • S. Jackson
  • 2019-01-04

Great listen.

Very good historical account of the early days of the NFL. Highly recommended for fans of the game.