It's an anniversary kind of season in the NFL, and quite a few new books are about to give you the details.
Fifty years ago, Lamar Hunt, the son and heir of Texas millionaire oilman H.L. Hunt, and a few rich pals started something called the American Football League. A co-owner of one of the new teams, Wayne Valley of the Oakland Raiders, dubbed all the owners "The Foolish Club." The league ended up merging with the NFL, the Joe Namath-led Jets became the first AFL team to win the Super Bowl and ... read all about it in "The Little League That Could: A History of the American Football League." (By Ken Rappoport)
Also set to hit the shelves soon is a book on Hunt: "The Gentle Giant Who Revolutionized Professional Sports." (By David Sweet).
Forty years ago, the great Vince Lombardi died and left a coaching legacy of five NFL championships in his nine seasons with the Green Bay Packers. Several books on Lombardi are set for release or reissue, including Pat Summerall's "What I Learned About Life from Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry" to "When Pride Still Mattered: Lombardi," the book by David Maraniss that serves as the basis for the Broadway-bound play "Lombardi" scheduled to open in October.
Here's an additional six-pack of recommended reading:
--"Sports Illustrated Blood, Sweat and Chalk: Inside Football's Playbook: How the Great Coaches Built Today's Game." By Tim Layden. Long title, much research into the evolution of play calling. Includes several chapters on recently deceased Chargers coach Don Coryell and his "Air Coryell" offense.
--"All Rise: The Remarkable Journey of Alan Page." By Bill McGrane. A look at the playing career of the Vikings' Hall of Famer who was one of the "Purple People Eaters" and went on to become an associate justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court.
--"Coming Back Stronger" By Drew Brees (with Chris Fabry). The Saints Super Bowl MVP pours his heart out about his mother's suicide just before last season, as well as other failures and misfortunes.
--"The Mentor Leader: Secrets to Building People and Teams That Win Consistently." By Tony Dungy (with Nathan Whitaker). Former Colts Super Bowl-winning coach outlines his seven keys of mentoring leadership.
--"NFL Unplugged: The Brutal, Brilliant World of Professional Football." By Anthony Gargano. A look into the world where the cameras don't go: the locker room, the huddle, training camp, with firsthand accounts from more than 30 players.
--"Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Football" By Mike Beacom. A book that levels the playing field for novices, giving them a simple, clear and comprehensive guide to the game. There's also a fantasy football section.