Mavericks, Money, and Men: The AFL, Black Players, and the Evolution of Modern Football


The American Football League, established in 1960, was innovative both in its commitment to finding talented, overlooked players—particularly those who played for historically black colleges and universities—and in the decision by team owners to share television revenues. 

In Mavericks, Money and Men, football historian Charles Ross chronicles the AFL’s key events,  including Buck Buchanan, becoming the first overall draft pick in 1963, and the 1965 boycott led by black players who refused to play in the AFL-All Star game after experiencing blatant racism. He also recounts how the success of the AFL forced a merger with the NFL in 1969, which arguably facilitated the evolution of modern professional football.

Ross shows how the league, originally created as a challenge to the dominance of the NFL, pressured for and ultimately accelerated the racial integration of pro football and also allowed the sport to adapt to how African Americans were themselves changing the game.


Being a fan of football and also the history of the game. This book was perfect for me. Mr. Ross takes you back in time to the formation of the American Football Conference. When Lamar Hunt, Ralph Wilson, and Hilton started putting together the league. Games and cities were decided and players were chosen. First, most players were ones that were cut from the N.F.L. or were not going to have any shot at starting. Lenny Dawson for example played for Paul Brown but Brown thought he was at best a backup. Later Dawson would lead the Chiefs to two Super Bowls winning one. Mr. Ross also goes through how the teams came up with their draft process and how most teams of the A.F.L. Started drafting players from Historically Black Colleges that were not done in the N.F.L. You also see that Buck Buchanan in 1963 would be the first African American player drafted number one by the Kansas City Chiefs. Think of it the N.F.L. had to force the Washington Redskins to integrate in 1962. The American football League also set up the revenue sharing between their teams. A lot of what goes on in the N.F.L. today was the forethought of the American Football League. It also helped that they got a T.V. contract with N.B.C. so now their games would be shown usually after the N.F.L. games. This was also big because the difference between the two leagues began to show, with the N.F.L. still doing a lot of running the ball and the A.F.L. having a more open passing game. Nothing like today’s game but for the sixties, the A.F.L. was a much more exciting game to watch. It would get more exciting when a player by the name of Joe Namath got drafted by the Jets who had changed their name from the Titans. He would be just one of many who would change the game. I remember a many a Sunday afternoons watching with my father those heated battles between the Raiders and Chiefs, or either one of those against the Jets. They were some of the hardest fought games to the end. There were no penalties for roughing the quarterback, or late hits out of bounds. In one game the Raiders I think we’re really trying to kill Namath but I got up every time. I still remember reading his quote in our small town paper of that the Jets are going to beat the Colts he guarantees. Then Super Bowl III happens and they win. Football has not been the same. The next year the Chiefs win and you have two of the original A.FL. Teams winning and helping create what we have today. He also takes you through the back meetings with the agreement and how everything got worked out. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and brought back some good memories of Sunday afternoons with my father watching good football. I hope people will take the time to read this book. I received this book from I gave it 5 stars. Follow us at

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