Glancing through the Boston Globe this morning, I noticed in their history column that June 8th means something to the NFL. It was a day that both the NFL (National Football League) and AFL (American Football League) became one and no longer competitors.
It was on June 8, 1966 that both commissioners, Lamar Hunt from the AFL and Tex Schramm of the NFL came together in announcing that the American “Football War” had concluded and that both leagues would merge in 1970.
This was a critical step in the right direction into creating the game that NFL enthusiasts still flock to in the 21st century, but questions during this time still have had to remain today.
I love football. It is my favorite sport and I owe the love of the game to my father who played it as a young boy. Even though I never played a single snap in my entire life, I thought while reading this blurb, what if this merger had never occurred? Would football still remain today? Would it be the same game that we have always loved over the years or possibly, could the AFL and NFL have flopped big time?
These are some critical ideas and questions that came to my mind, especially when considering how today, two leagues that seem parallel to the beginning of the modern NFL are definitely the MLS and MLL. How many are true-die hard soccer fans in America? Does everyone want to buy season ticket packages for a Major League Lacrosse team?
These two leagues have very similar structures that both the AFL and NFL exhibited early on, but once players began choosing sides or picking the NFL over the AFL, it was about time that the leagues become united.
Ever since the merger occurred, the NFL has created a special league that keeps fans engaged, entertained and eager for more football. Playing on Sunday’s and Monday’s, as well as the occasional Thursday, Friday or Saturday, the NFL has turned into a league that quite clearly the most popular in America!
Forget baseball, basketball or hockey, football is the sport that seems to drive up the most revenue and engage so many fans of all ages. It doesn’t matter whether one is 7 or 83-years of age, everyone enjoys this game in their own way.
Yet one the greatest spectacles of this entire merger was having a World Championship game between both conferences at the end of each season.
The first Super Bowl, which was played between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs, was completely different than it is today. The coverage of this particular game was on both CBS and NBC, yet, today, one channel has the complete coverage. Sure there weren’t the fancy musical introductions featuring Jay-Z or other modern musicians, but the first Super Bowl had balloons, birds, two guys wearing jetpacks and of course, football.
Today, the Super Bowl has turned into a holiday of its very own. It is a day where everyone huddles around their television to either watch the musical acts, over priced commercials or the actual game itself.
This particular day in American history may not be so special to everyone, but for an avid football fan like myself, this was a crucial chapter in the NFL history that all fans must embellish. I feel that if the merger had not occurred, football would have become a different sport today.