Hello again, everyone! As I mentioned previously, I had the opportunity to attend the biannual meeting of the Pro Football Researchers Association last week. What a weekend!
Pro Football Researchers Association
The Professional Football Researchers Association (PFRA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the history of professional football. It was formed back in 1979 and now includes many of the game’s foremost historians and writers. The PFRA is also open to any fan interested in the history of professional football. Just check out their website for a minute…there are numerous articles on the history of pro football, and many of the articles have been printed in their official magazine, The Coffin Corner. If you’re interested at all in the history of the NFL or other professional football leagues through the decades, the PFRA is a wonderful group to keep in mind.
The Pro Football Researchers Association also maintains an online forum, and seriously, the posters over there are incredible. I’ll give you one example. Most football fans have seen the old-school helmets that didn’t have facemasks on them. In fact, some people, like late Penn State coach Joe Paterno, have suggested that the NFL should go back to helmets without facemasks in the interest of player safety. But when did facemasks first become mandatory for players in the NFL?
Well, ask the smarties who post at the PFRA forum, and they’ll tell you that facemasks first became mandatory in 1955, but active players were grandfathered in and allowed to play without them for the duration of their careers. Players could also request a special exemption from the commissioner’s office to use a facemask-less helmet, and a few received permission (primarily special teams players).
Now where else can you find cool info like that?
2012 PFRA Meeting
I attended the most recent meeting of the Pro Football Researchers Association, my first one ever, and it was a blast. I talked in my last post about how the event was held at NFL Films and what a great venue that was for a meeting. PFRA Secretary Chris Willis, who works at NFL Films, and Ken Crippen, who runs the whole show at the PFRA, did a fantastic job to arrange the whole weekend.
The first day included a tour of NFL Films as well as talks from our featured speakers: Dave Plaut, a senior producer at NFL Films who wrote The Games That Changed the Game: The Evolution of the NFL in Seven Sundays, and Sal Paolantonio, who hosts NFL Matchup on ESPN and wrote How Football Explains America. The second day was filled with speeches by members of the PFRA on various football-related topics. During the numerous breaks, it was an incredible experience meeting with several members of the PFRA. Many of them have written well-respected articles or books about the history of pro football…I wasn’t prepared for how many names I recognized in the crowd! Having the opportunity just to chat with them and listen to the football stories they’ve gathered over the years was very, very fun.
All in all, it was a great time with a remarkable group of people. Everyone in the group could not have been more friendly and knowledgeable. If you’re a fan of the history of pro football, check out the Pro Football Researchers Association and sign up to be a member. You’ll get a subscription to Coffin Corner, access to the members’ only section of their site, and a chance to interact with some of the best football historians you’ll ever meet.
It’s been a slow period with respect to Hawkeye news as we plow into the dog days of summer, but more to come as always, especially we get closer to football season and the release date of book #3. Thanks for reading!