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The Best Game Ever

Fifty years ago, the largest crowd ever to witness a football game tuned in to watch the blue collar Baltimore Colts take on the high rolling New York Giants in the first and only NFL championship gam

The Best Game Ever

Originally aired on June 5, 2008.

Tom Fudge:  Football has a long tradition in this country. And the early days of football glory were seen on the college field. There's a reason why Knute Rockne, the coach of Notre Dame, is cited as an example of the game's great early days. But professional football, it took quite a while for the pro game to get anyone's attention.


For most of the 20th century, football lived in the long shadow of Major League Baseball. Professional footballers were seen as semi-pro roughnecks who drank too much and didn't waste much time on the fine points of the game. But that began to change in the late fifties, and in 1958, one game epitomized the turning point for pro football. It was that year's NFL championship between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts. Just the list of names of the people involved in that game gives you an idea of its epic nature. Johnny Unitas, Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry and Frank Gifford, to name just a few.

Mark Bowden is an investigative journalist who's known for writing Black Hawk Down and Killing Pablo, about drug lord Pablo Escobar. He's a serious guy. But he's also a football fan, and he's written a new book about the '58 NFL championship called The Best Game Ever: Giants versus Colts, 1958 and the Birth of the Modern NFL. 


  • Mark Bowden   is the author of eight books including Black Hawk Down.  He is also currently a national correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly.