The NFL in the 1970s

Pro Football’s Most Important Decade

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About the Book

The 1970 merger between the American Football League and the National Football League laid the foundation for a stronger brand of gridiron competition, providing a new level of excitement for fans. This book examines each year of the NFL’s pivotal decade in detail, covering the great names, great rivalries and great games, as well as the key changes in both strategy and rules. Along the way, the author explains how pro football developed into a near-religious American tradition.

About the Author(s)

Former sportswriter Joe Zagorski has been a member of the Pro Football Researchers Association since the mid-1980s, and has written numerous articles for their monthly publication The Coffin Corner. He has also written articles for the internet site Pro Football Journal. He lives in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Bibliographic Details

Joe Zagorski
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 444
Bibliographic Info: 23 photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9790-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2534-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments ix

Foreword by Rocky Bleier 1

Preface 3

1970—A New Birth of Competition 9

1971—The National Game 43

1972—Perfection and Miraculous Memories 77

1973—The Odyssey Towards Stardom 112

1974—A New Breed, a New Dynasty 146

1975—A Repeating Dynasty Amidst ­Strong-Armed Cinderellas 182

1976—Bicentennial Battles 223

1977—Missing Pieces Found and Broncomania Born 254

1978—The Game Adjusts and Renews Itself 294

1979—The Curtain Descends on a Super Decade 339

Epilogue 390

Bibliographic Essay 395

Bibliography 407

Index 425

Book Reviews & Awards

“definitive…an ideal resource for football historians as well as casual fans seeking to get a sense of a phenomenal decade in NFL history.”—Library Journal; “The 1970s was the decade of The Godfather, Watergate and disco. It was also the decade of Monday Night Football, America’s Team and the Steel Curtain. Author Joe Zagorski’s lively, well-researched book explains how rival leagues, the NFL and AFL, came together and the modern era of pro football was born.”—McCann Award-winning sportswriter Ray Didinger; “Finally, a book about the decade of football that defined the game for the Boomer Generation, a decade when the NFL supplanted Major League Baseball as our national past-time and became a cultural obsession. This is when the Me Decade collided with the ultimate team sport. And in this book, Mr. Zagorski has provided the perfect balance, weaving complex historical narrative into a series of wonderful stories and personality portraits that will forever live in the fabric of American sports.”—Sal Paolantonio, ESPN National Correspondent; “Zagorski does a fantastic job of telling the story of the NFL during the decade of the 1970s. Full of wonderful anecdotes from an era of pro football worth remembering.”—Chris Willis, NFL Films; “If you grew up in the 1970s and want to reconnect with your memories, this is the book for you. It’s well researched and full of details from names to events to memorable games.”—Cliff Christl, team historian, Green Bay Packers; “The 1970s saw one of the most significant changes in modern NFL history, as two leagues became one and the NFL became an intra-league battle for supremacy on the gridiron. Mr. Zagorski’s dynamic and historical account of this period is informative.”—Bob Swick, editor and publisher of Gridiron Greats magazine; “This book is a nostalgic walk back through memory lane and the decade of the 1970s, the decade of dynasties when the NFL captured the imagination of the nation’s sports fans with larger than life teams and personalities. It was a time and a place that will never be duplicated again and the author captures all the highlights in this book that you won’t want to put down.”—Vito Stellino, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; “It was a self-indulgent era, preoccupied with personal appearance and artistic self-expression. Pro football was a reflection of the times.”—NFL Films documentary The Super Seventies; “For those who remember the 1970s, this book will bring back many fond memories.  But the depth and breadth of the research elevates this book far above popular accounts aimed at the fan base.”—Sport in American History.