Monthly Archives: July 2012
If you haven’t figured it out already, I really like the old AFL. The way the original eight owners challenged the NFL, and fought for legitimacy is inspirational. I find the individual teams’ rags-to-riches stories particularly interesting, and the many of the players have absolutely fascinating tales of their own.
If I happened to need just one more reason to like the AFL, I could find it in the Charger Horse mascot. I can only imagine how cool it must have been to see a knight in armor, hoisting a jousting sword, and sprinting down up and down the sidelines of Balboa Stadium on a white horse. It must have been a sight to behold. Combined with the beautiful Chargers jerseys, the green grass of the field and the old architecture of the stadium, a San Diego home game must have been a real event.
In our Tales from the American Football League community, we have a number of readers who either played in the AFL, or grew up watching games. At 39 years old, I have done neither, and my “memories” of the league are based on video, my interactions with former players and coaches, and the many books and articles that I have read.
I was thinking the other day, wondering what might be considered the most memorable play in league history. Was it Lance Alworth’s famous catch in the 1963 AFL championship game, which was caught on film by Chargers photographer, Charles Aqua Viva? Was it Tommy Brooker kicking the winning field goal after five+ quarters of play in the 1962 championship game? Or could it have been Matt Snell’s four-yard rushing touchdown to open the scoring in Super Bowl III? Maybe it was the famed 65 Toss Power Trap that the Kansas City Chiefs used to such success in Super Bowl IV?
Though nearing the end of his career when the AFL started up in 1960, Bootin’ Ben Agajanian made his impact on the league. Agajanian was pro football’s first true kicking specialist, and likely developed that phase of the game more than anyone else in history. In addition, he likes to talk. Here is a portion of an interview that I did with Bootin’ Ben back in 2002. As you can see, I got our my first question, and then sat back for the next 20 minutes and just listened. Ben has an interesting story!
In 1981, TCMA, a sports card manufacturer that focused mostly on producing throwback sets of baseball and football cards, issued a set called “TCMA Greats.” This 78-card football set featured a simple, yet beautiful design. The front of the card is nearly pure, and features a gorgeous color photograph of the subject, framed in a simple white border. The player’s name and other pertinent information is featured on the card back. All athletes featured in the TCMA Greats played in the 1950s and 1960s, and as a result, several cards portray players from the American Football League.
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – February 9, 1960 – FOOTBALL TALK – Eddie Erdelatz, left, chatted in Oakland’s Athens Athletic Club today with Y.C. (Chet) Soda after it was announced Erdelatz was picked as coach of the new Oakland professional team of the American Football League. Erdelatz was head coach of the Navy team from 1950 through 1958. Soda, general manager of the Oakland club,said the contract will be signed in a week or so. Erdelatz, 46, said he made only one promise to his new employers: “I’ll do my best.” (AP Wirephoto)