Pro football used to be a second-tier sport -- not as popular as baseball, nor as glamorous as horse racing. They played their games in baseball stadiums that were imperfectly and sometimes absurdly aligned for football. The locker rooms were cold and grimy. Halfbacks and tackles made about as much as electricians and plumbers, which a lot of pro football players actually were for most of the year, because no one could make a living just playing football for just a few weeks a year.
The college game had class. The pro game was considered a little seedy.
That was already changing in the mid-1950s as television made the game vivid and dramatic for millions.
On Dec. 28, 1958, the New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts played a game that turned pro football into America's sport, and even a metaphor for the country.
Frank Gifford was a Giants running back in that game, and, of course, went on to be a broadcaster for many years. Now he and Peter Richmond have looked up all his old teammates on both sides of the line to write a new book, The Glory Game: How the 1958 NFL Championship Changed Football Forever.
Host Scott Simon talks to the former running back about that legendary game.