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John Eisenberg

At once a history of a sport and a great American success story, THE LEAGUE: How Five Rivals Created the NFL and Launched a Sports Empire is an absolute must-read for fans of the true national pastime. Author John Eisenberg is a prizewinning sportswriter and a Dallas native. Some of the advance reviews:

“A rich history of the rise of the National Football League from its virtual obscurity at its genesis in the 1920s to its position as an economic and cultural powerhouse today… Thoroughly researched and gracefully told… An engaging and informative cultural history, on and off the gridiron.”
— Kirkus Reviews

“Drawing on extensive research and personal interviews, Eisenberg puts a nearly century-old story into contemporary context. Football fans of all teams will appreciate this fascinating history.”
— Publishers Weekly

“John Eisenberg has achieved something remarkable: He has uncovered a riveting story from the early days of the NFL that has yet to be told. Better yet, Eisenberg’s deeply researched, put-you-there narrative is written with a novelist's flair—you'll feel like you're breathing the same air as the five men who risked it all to turn a struggling league into the juggernaut it is today. This is a movie waiting to be made.”  
— Lars Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of The Storm and the Tide


In the spring of 1934, fifteen years into the National Football League’s existence, the league’s future was still in question; turnout at games was low, and the majority of teams were losing money. Millions of sports fans around the country followed baseball, college football, horse racing, and boxing, but many did not even know that a pro football league existed. 

Today, the NFL is the world's most popular sports league, a colossus spewing out $10 billion in annual revenues. Given its current dominance, most fans could never imagine pro football's dismal early years, or how five men of varied backgrounds and talents managed to keep the sport alive. In THE LEAGUE, John Eisenberg illuminates the little-known story of the NFL’s humble beginnings, and how the five founders – Art Rooney, George Halas, Tim Mara, George Preston Marshall, and Bert Bell – battled in poverty for decades to create a league that would end up dominating American sports. 

Drawing upon exclusive research and interviews with family members of the founders, Eisenberg takes readers from the smoke-filled rooms where the founders built their business, to the dirt fields on which their game first flourished. He shows that the league survived only because each man brought to it a particular skill; Marshall had a nose for business, Halas the innovative football mind, Rooney the gambler’s eye for the main chance, Mara the chutzpah, and Bell the managerial talent. Together they did it all – finding the stadiums and the crowds to fill them, coaching the teams (and even taking the field in a pinch), marketing their product, even while squabbling among themselves over matters of profit and prestige.

John Eisenberg is one of the country’s most acclaimed sportswriters. A native of Dallas and graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, he started out covering the “Friday Night Lights” for the now-defunct Dallas Times Herald in 1979. After rising through the ranks to cover pro basketball, he joined the Baltimore Sun in 1984. For the next 23 years he wrote columns in the Sun about the hometown Orioles, Ravens and Maryland Terrapins, and also covered major events such as the World Series, Super Bowl and Olympics. 

John Eisenberg has authored 10 bestselling sports books, including The Streak: Lou Gehrig, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Baseball’s Most Historic Record. Published in 2017, it was a finalist for the Casey Award, which honors the year’s best baseball book, and was shortlisted for the PEN/ESPN Literary Sportswriting Award, which honors the year’s best sports book. 

John has also written for Sports Illustrated and Smithsonian Magazine. He lives in Baltimore with his wife of 34 years, Mary Wynne Eisenberg. They have two grown children.

Friday, October 4th, 6:00PM
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10720 Preston Road
Ste 1009B
Dallas, TX 75230
The League: How Five Rivals Created the NFL and Launched a Sports Empire Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780465048700
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Basic Books - October 9th, 2018