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NFL Sycophants


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I have been accused, in a post on another topic, of name-calling becuse of my comment elsewhere that "NFL sycophants" in the 1960's called the American Football League a "basketball league." My Webster's (old, as I am) defines "sycophant" as: "A flatterer, epecially of princes and great men.". I must admit I thought the meaning of the word was more harsh than that, but I feel my usage was neither in error nor untrue, nor was it "name-calling". And my use of the term was in reference to the media, not to fans: but if the shoe fits, wear it.

The point is that much of the negative press about the American Football League was generated by media representatives who were "NFL flatterers". The prime example was Sports Illustrated's lead Professional Football writer, Tex Maule, who went to that job directly from a position under Pete Rozelle with the NFL's LA Rams. Maule spent years ignoring the AFL, as in his 1968 article "The Young Generals" [click here], advertised as a treatise on Professional Football's young quarterbacks. In it, he wrote glowingly about qbs including the NFL's Gary Cuozzo, Randy Johnson, Jack Concannon and Kent Nix, with nary a mention of Daryle Lamonica, Joe Namath or Bob Griese. Let's see, which league did the latter three play for?

When Maule wasn't ignoring the AFL, he was insulting it. His disdain for the AFL was so legendary that in the network feed of the Jets' dismantling of the Colts in SB III, NBC's Curt Gowdy can be heard to ask "I wonder if that S.O.B. Tex Maule is watching?" Maule was an influential writer, and I don't think it's a stretch to imagine that some Pro Football writers across the country, especially in NFL cities, picked up on and promulgated his views.

This is my opinion, but I believe that now, as then, some in the media "flatter" the NFL for their own gain. Is every columnist going to point out warts, if it means it will be more difficult to get interviews? Is an NFL Network announcer going to criticize the NFL? Are any network's game announcers or the networks themselves going to take the chance that the NFL might take their football and go home? Did ESPN drop a "realistic" show about fictional NFL players for fear of losing NFL broadcast rights? For all its stunning photography, is NFL Films anything but a propaganda arm for the NFL? Are the networks that promote NFL Films showing documentaries or advertisements? Has anyone ever seen a depiction of the NFL similar to Ken Burns' classic "Baseball", dealing not only with the beauty and poetry of the game itself, but with its flaws and faults?

If your answer to any of the above is "No.", I suggest that you have seen "NFL sycophants" in action. Sadly, I believe that this posture, continuing from the 1960's, is one reason why AFL stars like Johnny Robinson are not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, in spite of having qualifications equal to or greater than NFL inductees from the same era. Tex Maule's poison pen is still blotting the true history of Professional Football.

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Well, since it was me who first leveled the charge, you probably don't want to hear this, but the "Sports Logo" board isn't the place for this thread, not being about the logos. It probably goes in the Sports in General board.

But seriously - your response to jerkish behavior is... jerkish behavior?

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