The catalyst for pro football’s breakthrough in the latter half of the 1950s and 1960s was the new medium of television. The sport’s flow of play could be followed even on a grainy black-and-white screen, and its schedule slotted perfectly into the networks’ need to fill long Sunday afternoons. The start-and-stop nature of the game also happened to offer natural ad breaks. Above all, the league was ahead of its time in seeing the potential to transform large men in hard helmets into mythical warriors. “The N.F.L. jumped into television and became a master at creating huge, larger-than-life characters,” says Daniel Nathan, a professor of American studies at Skidmore College.
Ian McGugan, “Goal-Line Stand”, The New York Times Magazine (12 October 2014), 22.