W12 Poll: AFL Contributions

01/01/2005

Week 12 poll: AFL Contributions

Buffalo meets Kansas City this Sunday in a distant replay of the 1966 AFL Title game (the Chiefs won, 31-7). The Chiefs went on to lose Super Bowl I to Green Bay, and after just three more seasons of quasi-independence (the leagues' officially merged in 1966, but retained separate standings) the upstart American Football League fully melded with the National Football League. What was the AFL's biggest contribution to the sport? Check below before answering. | Results from Weeks 1-11

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Open offensive style

Joe Namath

Joe Namath

From its inception in 1960, the AFL gained a reputation as a more exciting and offensive league. While the NFL was dominated by Green Bay and its "Run to Daylight" style, the AFL featured high-scoring attacks in Houston, Oakland and San Diego (originally in Los Angeles) among others. The league was putting up more points and doing it via the air -- quarterbacks like Daryle Lamonica, George Blanda and Joe Namath threw the ball early and often. Fans came to associate offensive football with the AFL, a legacy that can still be seen today. 

The Super Bowl

Super Bowl IV (Minnesota/Kansas City)

Super Bowl IV

Though it wasn't known as the Super Bowl when the Packers beat the Chiefs in 1967, the annual title game between the NFL and AFL champion was destined to become sport's grandest spectacle. The younger league shocked the staid NFL to attention in Super Bowl III when the Jets beat Baltimore, and the game has only gotten bigger since. Beginning in 1970, the game became a contest between the NFC and AFC champions, and "Super Bowl Sunday" has practically become a secular holiday in the United States.

The players

George Blanda

George Blanda

Joe Namath, George Blanda, Lance Alworth, Billy Cannon, Len Dawson, Otis Taylor, Bobby Bell, Charley Hennigan, Willie Brown … just a few of the amazing players who joined the NFL in 1966 from the AFL. The influx of talent when the leagues merged was substantial. And, with all that talent in one league, the public had an easier time comparing stars and teams, any fan's favorite pastime. The NFL's talent base was clearly stronger after the merger, and the league was more exciting as a result. 

Strong ownership and coaches

Pete Rozelle and Lamar Hunt

Pete Rozelle, Lamar Hunt

Perhaps as critical as the addition of the players on the field, the AFL also added tremendous leadership to the NFL via its owners and coaches. The original eight owners were known as "The Foolish Club," but men like Lamar Hunt (AFL founder), Al Davis (a scout, coach, general manager, owner, and for a brief time the commissioner of the AFL), Sid Gillman (coach of the Chargers) and Hank Stram (coach of the Chiefs) had a critical effect on policies and direction in the new league … and still do.

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Note: Photos courtesy of the Associated Press.

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