Saturday, February 2, 2008

NFL ‘open’ to dialogue on Maroons

An unprecedented week of publicity for the Pottsville Maroons came to a close Friday with a conversation between “Breaker Boys” author David Fleming and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about opening a new line of dialogue within the NFL about the legendary football team.

Fleming said he briefly spoke to Goodell in Phoenix, Ariz., site of Sunday’s Super Bowl XLII.“I was pleasantly surprised,” Fleming said. “I told him the town (Pottsville) just wants to tell their story.”On Wednesday night, HBO’s “Inside the NFL” ran a segment about the Maroons and the curse on the Arizona Cardinals franchise, which lays controversial claim to the 1925 NFL title.On Thursday, a new issue of ESPN the Magazine hit shelves, featuring a new Fleming article detailing the woes of the Cardinals, who have won only one playoff game since 1947.Fleming said Goodell planned to read “Breaker Boys” during the offseason and Goodell told him the NFL is “always open” to hearing the discussion.“In four months, the book (“Breaker Boys”) has reached the commissioner of the NFL, the president of the United States, Hollywood and London,” Fleming said.In December, Fleming received a letter from President George W. Bush, who called the book “illuminating.”In October, Patrick Rizzotti, who is a partner of Fortress Features, Los Angeles, said a script about the team was finished and could go before the cameras as early as spring.Samuel Munson, who runs in the UK, said international support for the Maroons is growing.“Anyone who tends to be into their NFL history tends to be a fan of them,” Munson said in an e-mail to the REPUBLICAN & Herald. “I’ve yet to encounter somebody who’s heard the story and doesn’t have some kind of goodwill towards them.”“Breaker Boys: The NFL’s Greatest Team and the Stolen 1925 Championship” was released Oct. 9 and renewed public interest in the famous football team.The Maroons defeated the Chicago Cardinals 21-7 in what was widely considered the NFL title game in 1925.Six days later, the Maroons played an exhibition game against the famed Notre Dame four horsemen squad, a non-NFL team, and were stripped of the title shortly after.The Cardinals, who have since moved to Arizona, claimed the title in 1933 when the Bidwill family bought the franchise.At an October NFL owners meeting in Philadelphia, Goodell told the REPUBLICAN & Herald he hadn’t thought much about the Maroons since a 2003 vote closed the possibility of new discussions on the 1925 title.Fleming said Goodell told him he was “caught off guard” by questions about the Maroons at that time. During Friday’s conversation, Fleming said Goodell was “incredibly friendly and informed” about the topic.Ian Lipton, a member of Lasting Legacy of Pottsville, said there will be a push aimed at NFL owners this spring.“We’re hoping to get that (Maroons discussion) on the agenda for the owners meeting in May,” Lipton said.Lipton also said a debate between Fleming and a representative of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Maroons’ adversary Joe Horrigan, is still very possible.“We have to wait until after the Super Bowl and after the Pro Bowl,” Lipton said.


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