During the early days of professional football, which go back to 1895 and a game between Latrobe and Jeannette, Pa., it often seemed that the only way to make ends meet was to have two players qualified at the position shake hands. Financially, the game had troubles, and as a sport it more than once looked as if it might go the way the six-day bike race went.
But today coins are clanking in its coffers as never before, and pro football enjoys an economic health second to none among spectator sports. One of its business problems, as reported in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (Look How the Owners Smile, March 10), is the kind most of us would like to have: "Pro football is looking for more seats to accommodate a growing host of fans for whom there are no seats." The season which opens this week bids fair to be the biggest ever, with paid attendance for the National Football League expected for the first time to pass the 3 million mark—for a pretty fair average of 50,000 per regularly scheduled game.
In the course of rising to its present affluence and eminence, pro football has brought marked changes to the over-all pattern of football, evident not only in new attitudes and interests on the part of players and spectators but in the actual play of the game itself.
Next week, in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's PREVIEW of the professional season, Tex Maule discusses some of these changes, which give an insight into the football that's coming up. The scouting reports on the 12 teams follow. They include last year's records, strengths and weaknesses of the running and passing offenses and defenses, and the exceptional players and plays to watch.
Maule noted last year (SI, Oct. 28) that the prime mover which operates all professional football teams is a great passer and ball handler at T quarterback. Among the greatest of these prime movers is Y. A. Tittle, veteran quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers and Pro Player of 1957. In next week's PREVIEW, Tittle will explain the secrets—the strategy, tactics and technique—of professional quarterbacking. Helping to explain them will be illustrations by Daniel Schwartz.
What other secrets remain, only the season itself can reveal. And that's a story which SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, with more complete coverage of pro football than ever, will be telling each week from now till the season is over.