1968 — A HISTORICAL NOVEL: CHAPTER 31

Joe Namath discussing his famous guarantee of victory in Super Bowl III.

When the Apollo 8 broadcast was finished, Walter Cronkite told viewers to stay tuned to CBS for a special airing of 60 Minutes, a news magazine-style program that had debuted in September and was already getting rabid ratings because of the breadth and topicality of its investigative journalism.

This heart-wrenching…

1968 — A HISTORICAL NOVEL: CHAPTER 30

Earthrise, the famous photo taken during the Apollo 8 mission.

The eight-foot-tall white spruce was an exquisitely well-shaped Christmas tree, no low hanging branches, full throughout the middle, and then tapered up to a perfectly symmetrical triangle. …

THE AFL 1960–69: A RETROSPECTIVE

NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle welcomed the 10 AFL franchises into the new NFL in time for the 1970 season.

In publishing its final American Football League guide in 1970, a reference book that capsulized the 10-year history of the league, the editors of The Sporting News decided to pen a dedication in honor of everyone who played a part in the phenomenal success the AFL enjoyed. …

THE AFL 1960–69: A RETROSPECTIVE

Otis Taylor and the Chiefs won the final AFL Championship Game over arch rival Oakland.

John Madden never put a muzzle on his players during his 10-year tenure as head coach in Oakland.

His crazy band of renegades said whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, and because the Raiders were usually so good, Madden didn’t care because he knew his guys would back up their…

1968 — A HISTORICAL NOVEL: CHAPTER 29

Harvard quarterback Frank Champi helped the Crimson pull off a stunning last-second rally against arch rival Yale in 1968’s version of The Game.

When Jack told SportsWorld editor Mark Brantley of what he thought his next assignment should be, he received the exact response he expected from his immediate superior.

“Are you serious?” Brantley said over the phone when Jack informed him that he wanted to cover the 85th renewal of the Harvard-Yale…

THE AFL 1960–69: A RETROSPECTIVE

Willie Lanier patrolled the middle of the Chiefs defense for 11 seasons.

Sometimes, the numbers just don’t tell the story.

In the spring of 1967, prior to the first combined draft between AFL and NFL teams, the Houston Oilers’ scouting department took one look at Willie Lanier’s measurables and concluded that the Morgan State linebacker had no future in pro football.

Lanier…

THE AFL 1960–69: A RETROSPECTIVE

Bobby Bell was one of the finest all-around athletes to play in the AFL.

Hank Stram, who coached Bobby Bell for his entire 12-year career with the Kansas City Chiefs, always maintained that Bell could have played any position on a football field and done a very credible job.

“There isn’t a job Bell can’t do, and do well,” said Stram.

But there was…

THE AFL 1960–69: A RETROSPECTIVE

Bob Griese and the Dolphins lost to the Jets, but soon enough, Miami would become the kingpin in the new AFC East.

It was on the rainy New York City afternoon of Nov. 2, 1969, rainy autumn that the Jets and Dolphins passed each other heading in opposite directions into their futures.

First there were the four-year-old Dolphins, a team that came into Shea Stadium for this Eastern Division matchup having won…

THE AFL 1960–69: A RETROSPECTIVE

John Madden took over from John Rauch, left, as Raiders head coach in 1969.

At first he spent his Sunday afternoons flailing his arms on the sidelines of football stadiums all across the country, television cameras capturing his every gesture as his Oakland Raiders terrorized the NFL with their unique brand of brilliance and bone-breaking.

Big John Madden, the fiery leader of the Raiders…

1968 — A HISTORICAL NOVEL: CHAPTER 28

All of it could wait. Pro football. College football. The start of the NBA and NHL seasons.

After the month he’d just had, traveling to the Olympic Trials in California, covering a seven-game World Series in the Midwest, then heading straight to Mexico City for the Olympics, nothing was going…

Sal Maiorana

I’ve been writing about sports — mainly the Buffalo Bills — for the past 34 years for the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y. Also the author of 22 books.

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