In the most complete and compelling account of the origins of professional football, The Sunday Game tells the stories of all the teams that played independent football in the small towns and industrial cities of the Midwest, from early in the twentieth century to the beginning of the National Football League shortly after the end of World War I. The foundations of what is now the most popular professional sport in America were laid by such teams as the Canton Bulldogs and the Massillon Tigers, the Columbus Panhandles and the Youngstown Patricians, teams born out of civic pride and the enthusiasm of the blue-collar crowds who found, in the rough pleasure of the football field, the gritty equivalent of their own lives, a game they could cheer on Sunday afternoons, their only day free from work.
McClellan’s team-by-team study of pre-NFL professional football-his tank-town chronicles, as it were-is the most detailed account to date of pro football’s lively and fascinating early years. Focusing on the crucial period of 1915–1917, when independent semiprofessional football developed into a fully professional game, this book tells the story of the teams and players, seasons and games of an era when pro football was not a billion-dollar entertainment industry but an intimate part of community life in factory towns throughout the upper Midwest. This is the mother lode of trivia for diehard football fans, and a rich resource for serious students of the game.
—Michael Oriard, author of Reading Football