Full Color Football: The History of the American Football League
|Full Color Football: The History of the American Football League|
|Narrated by||Peter Coyote|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||5|
|Running time||Five 1-hour segments|
|Production company(s)||NFL Films|
|Original release||September 16 –|
October 14, 2009
Full Color Football: The History of the American Football League is a sports documentary miniseries that focuses on the American Football League (AFL, 1960–1969), recognized by many as the genesis of modern professional football. The 5-part series originally aired on the US pay-cable network Showtime in the fall of 2009 to coincide with the 50th anniversary season of both the AFL's founding and its original 8 teams.
The show traces the history of the league using game broadcasts and highlight footage (some of which have never been previously aired on national television); archived and recent interviews with AFL personalities and players including Joe Namath, Al Davis and John Madden; and commentary from football historians, authors, and AFL eyewitnesses such as Ange Coniglio, Dan Rather and Larry King, and AFL players including Ernie Warlick, Alex Kroll, and Larry Eisenhauer. The show is narrated by Peter Coyote and was produced by NFL Films.
Episode 1: "The New Frontier" (original air date: 9/16/2009) looks at how Lamar Hunt, after the NFL turned down his attempts to purchase a franchise, arranges a group of fellow businessmen, the self-titled "Foolish Club", to start their own league. The episode examines back stories of the eight founding owners, and spotlights the AFL's humble beginnings, from games played in mostly empty stadiums to the exciting 1962 championship game that took two overtimes to be resolved.
Episode 2: "Times They Are A Changin'" (original air date: 9/23/2009) highlights how the San Diego Chargers (powered by coach Sid Gillman's offensive schemes) and the Buffalo Bills (and their dominating defense) became the AFL's premier teams. Societal effects on the AFL are also examined, from the John F. Kennedy assassination to the relocation of the league's January 1965 All-Star Game to Houston (after several black players were refused service in New Orleans).
Episode 3: "War and Peace" (original air date: 9/30/2009) sees the AFL reach a watershed: A lucrative new TV contract with NBC, the awarding of a ninth franchise to Miami, and the launch of a player bidding war with the NFL that began with the New York Jets' signing of Alabama QB Joe Namath. The two leagues would reach a truce that would lead to the start of the Super Bowl, a "common draft" of collegiate players, and their 1970 merger.
Episode 4: "Revolution" (original air date: 10/7/2009) looks at how, amidst a backdrop of upheaval in American society, the AFL generates its own upheaval in the sports world: After its champions are routed in the first two Super Bowls, the league gains respectability on the shoulders of Namath, who, after his Jets defeat Oakland for the 1968 league title, fulfills a brash guarantee to defeat NFL champ Baltimore in Super Bowl III, regarded as one of the greatest upsets in sports history.
Episode 5: "The Final Frontier" (original air date: 10/14/2009) profiles the league's final year, 1969, including the contentious debate on post-merger league realignment, Namath's near-retirement, and innovations like the West Coast offense and stack defense that found their origins in the AFL. With the respectability it long sought now secure, the league ends on a high note with Hank Stram's Kansas City Chiefs soundly defeating Minnesota in Super Bowl IV.