When Football Was Football

Each episode takes the listener back to the very early days of the National Football League. Author Joe Ziemba will share a forgotten or lost story from one of the NFL’s two oldest teams: The Bears and the Cardinals. Team championships, individual exploits, or long-buried items of interest from the earliest years of the NFL will be dusted off and resurrected for the listener.

Not for the football faint-of-heart since these programs will document when the struggling Bears nearly went out of business or when Cardinals’ players earned $15 a game and were proud of it! It’s NFL history—with a twist!

Host: Joe Ziemba

Recognized as one of the leading authorities on the history of professional football in the country, Joe Ziemba is the award-winning author of the books When Football Was Football: The Chicago Cardinals and the Birth of the NFLCadets, Cannons, and Legends: The Football History of Morgan Park Military Academy; and Bears vs. Cardinals: The NFL’s Oldest Rivalry.

A lifelong resident of the south side of Chicago, Joe first became interested in the history of pro football after discovering that his father was a draft choice of the Chicago (now Arizona) Cardinals in the 1940s.

Because of his knowledge of the early days of the professional game, Joe has been a resource for articles or reports in Sports Illustratedthe New York Times, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Daily Southtown, the Arizona Republic, NBC Sunday Night Football, CBS Sunday Football, ESPN, and many others.

Joe has appeared on the WGN documentary “Football in Chicago,” a Comcast Sports special on the Chicago Bears, on radio stations such as WBBM and WSCR in Chicago, as well as the Global Sports Broadcasting Network. 

He hosts the “When Football Was Football” podcast on the Sports History Network (which was one of eight global finalists in 2022 for the sports team podcast of the year) and is a frequent guest on numerous pro football podcasts. And in 2022, Joe was the recipient of the Ralph Hay Award presented by the Professional Football Researchers Association for “lifetime achievement in pro football research and historiography.”