The Man Who Built the National Football League

Joe F. Carr

By (author) Chris Willis Foreword by James A. Carr

Publication date:

19 August 2010

Length of book:

504 pages


Scarecrow Press

ISBN-13: 9780810876699

Founded in 1920, the National Football League chose famed athlete Jim Thorpe as its first president, a position he held briefly until a successor was elected. From 1921 to 1939, Joe F. Carr guided the sport of professional football with intelligence, hard work, and a passion that built the foundation of what the NFL has become: the number one sports organization in the world. During his eighteen-year tenure as NFL President, Carr created the organization's first Constitution & By-Laws; implemented the standard player's contract; wrote the NFL's first-ever Record and Fact Book; helped split the NFL into two divisions and establish the NFL's World Championship Game; started keeping league statistics; and developed the NFL Draft. But Carr's greatest achievement was creating a vision for the NFL as a big-city sport. By skillfully recruiting financially capable owners to operate NFL franchises in big market cities, he created the solid foundation for the league's successful future.

While the sport has grown to unheard of heights, Carr's name and accomplishments have been lost and forgotten.
The Man Who Built the National Football League: Joe F. Carr captures the life and career of this pivotal figure in professional sports, chronicling the many achievements of a man whose vision helped shaped what the NFL is today. With unlimited access and complete cooperation from the Carr family—including family interviews, personal letters, and family photos—as well as NFL League Minutes, Willis recounts the fascinating life and career of a man dedicated to the game.
This biography profiles the man who shepherded the NFL at its outset and established the solid foundation upon which Bert Bell and Pete Rozelle could build. In many ways, Carr's was the harder and most crucial job, named league president in 1921 when 'post graduate football' was not a serious competitor to college football or major league baseball. Willis (head of research lib., NFL Films) reminds us that Carr drew up and enforced the bylaws of the league and continually pushed it forward by recruiting a stable ownership group in large U.S. cities. Carr's years in sports management also embraced basketball and baseball. Willis relates Carr's life in comprehensive detail from a wealth of interviews and use of Carr's archives. This thorough biography of a forgotten but influential figure in sports management is recommended to all football fans.