NFL Reading List

Football season is well underway and we’re here to add a dose of football and NFL themed reads to your TBR. Featuring reads that will educate you on the origins of modern football, the creation of the NFL and sports media, the intersections of football and politics, and a selection of articles from the Journal of Sports History, this list has everything you need for kickoff.

Walter Camp and the Creation of American Football

Roger R. Tamte

Roger R. Tamte tells the engrossing but forgotten life story of Walter Camp, the man contemporaries called “the father of American football.” He charts Camp’s leadership and for the first time tells the story behind the remarkably inventive rule change that, in Camp’s own words, was “more important than all the rest of the legislation combined.”




Pigskin Nation: How the NFL Remade American Politics

Jesse Berrett

Jesse Berrett explores pro football’s new place in the zeitgeist of the 1960s and 1970s. Governing, entertainment, news, elections, celebrity—all put aside old loyalties to pursue the mass audience captured by the NFL’s alchemy of presentation, television, and high-stepping style. An invigorating appraisal of a dynamic era, Pigskin Nation reveals how pro football created the template for a future that became our present.



Keepers of the Flame

Keepers of the Flame: NFL Films and the Rise of Sports Media

Travis Vogan

NFL Films changed the way Americans viewed professional football. In Keepers of the Flame: NFL Films and the Rise of Sports Media, Travis Vogan presents NFL Films’ rise from a small independent production company to a marketing machine Sports Illustrated called “perhaps the most effective propaganda organ in the history of corporate America.”




The Revolt of The Black Athlete

Harry Edwards

This Fiftieth Anniversary edition of Harry Edwards’s classic of activist scholarship offers a new introduction and afterword that revisits the revolts by athletes like Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos. Relating the rebellion of black athletes to a larger spirit of revolt among black citizens, Edwards moves his story forward to our era of protests, boycotts, and the dramatic politicization of athletes by Black Lives Matter.



Football and Manliness: An Unauthorized Feminist Account of the NFL

Thomas P. Oates

Thomas P. Oates uses feminist theory to break down the dynamic cultural politics shaping, and shaped by, today’s NFL.Though longing for a past dominated by white masculinity, the mediated NFL also subtly aligns with a new economic reality that demands it cope with the shifting relations of gender, race, sexuality, and class.




NFL Football - Richard Crepeau

NFL Football: A History of America’s New  National Pastime

Richard C. Crepeau

In this wide-ranging history, Richard C. Crepeau synthesizes scholarship and media sources to give the reader an inside view of the television contracts, labor issues, and other forces that shaped the league off the field and all too often determined a team’s success on it. NFL Football tells an epic American success story peopled by larger-than-life figures and driven by ambition, money, sweat, and dizzying social and technological changes.



 Journal of Sport History

Edited by Maureen Smith

The Journal of Sport History is published on behalf of The North American Society for Sport History. It seeks to promote the study of all aspects of the history of sport. The Journal of Sports History frequently discusses the NFL in its content, which can be found here:


About Heather Gernenz

University of Illinois Press Publicity Manager