1) Signing free agents (players whose contracts in other professional football leagues had expired, or who had no professional experience).
2) Signing players from the previous year's college graduates.
The latter option involved a "draft" in which each team selected players who then were not available for other teams to select. The draft for the 1960 season was actually conducted in late 1959, shortly after the formation of the league. Thereafter, American Football League drafts were conducted separately from the rival NFL through 1966. Starting in 1967, after the NFL agreed to merge with the AFL, the two leagues conducted a "common draft".
In 1961 and 1962, the American Football League drafts were "regional". Teams were assigned broad geographical regions around their home city, and had "rights" to the players within those regions. This encouraged players to sign with "home town" teams, as well as providing fans with players with whom they had some familiarity. The AFL also tapped sources which the NFL had disdained: small colleges and all-black colleges.
The draft for the 1960 season was actually conducted in late 1959, shortly after the formation of the league.
During the years in which the AmericanFootballLeague was in direct competition with the NFL for players (and fans), numerous star players chose to play in the AFL.
The first and one of the most prominent of these was LSU All-American Billy Cannon, who went on to become an AFL All-Star both as a running back with the Houston Oilers and as a tight end with the Oakland Raiders.
Of all the leagues that have attempted to challenge the dominance of the National FootballLeague, it was the only one to be truly successful.
In an early attempt by the established NFL to disrupt the new league, Winter and the Minnesota group were lured away from the so-called "Foolish Club" and promised a franchise in the older league, which eventually became the Minnesota Vikings.
The AmericanFootballLeague took advantage of the burgeoning popularity of football by locating teams in major cities that lacked NFL franchises, and by using the growing power of televised football games (bolstered with the help of major network contracts, first with ABC and later with NBC).
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