Origins of the NFL discussed

BAR HARBOR — Author and Baltimore Ravens columnist John Eisenberg will talk about his book “The League: How Five Rivals Created the NFL and Launched a Sports Empire” Thursday, July 18, at 7 p.m. at the Jesup Memorial Library.

“Fans who only know the league as it exists today will be shocked and fascinated by its early years,” a Booklist reviewer said of the book.

Eisenberg extensively researched the beginnings of the NFL and interviewed family members of the founders to show just how the league got its start.

“The League” sheds light on the work of the five founders, George Halas (Chicago Bears), Tim Mara (New York Giants), Bert Bell (Philadelphia Eagles), Art Rooney (Pittsburgh Steelers) and George Preston Marshall (Washington Redskins).

Eisenberg brings readers into the backrooms where they built their business and onto the dirt fields on which their game first flourished. He highlights the hardscrabble beginnings of the league where players piled onto busses and stayed at local YMCAs for road games, packed their own lunches and were even paid in IOUs one season.

In a starred review, Kirkus wrote, “A rich history of the rise of the National Football League from its virtual obscurity at its genesis in the 1920s to its position as an economic and cultural powerhouse today … Thoroughly researched and gracefully told … An engaging and informative cultural history, on and off the gridiron.”

Ernie Accorsi, former General Manager of the Baltimore Colts, Cleveland Browns, and New York Giants, wrote, “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.”

Eisenberg, a native of Dallas, Texas and graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, started out covering the “Friday Night Lights” for the now-defunct Dallas Times Herald in 1979. After rising through the ranks to cover pro basketball, he joined the staff of the Baltimore Sun.

For the next 23 years, he wrote columns in the Sun about the Orioles, Ravens and Maryland Terrapins and covered major events such as the World Series, Super Bowl and Olympics. His honors included several firsts in the prestigious Associated Press Sports Editors’ contest.

Since 2012, he has written columns for the Ravens’ website. He also has written for Sports Illustrated and Smithsonian Magazine. He is the author of ten books about sports including “The Streak: Lou Gehrig, Cal Ripken, and Baseball’s Most Historic Record” and “Ten-Gallon War: The NFL’s Cowboys, the AFL’s Texans and the Feud for Dallas’s Pro Football Future.”

Eisenberg lives in Baltimore, Md.

Books will be on sale courtesy of Sherman’s Books. Contact 288-4245.

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