As one who played sandlot football in the early teens and high school football from 1918 to 1920, I was fascinated by John S. Watterson’s “Inventing Modern Football” (September/October 1988). But in all the various expositions concerning the sport, I never see any mention of how changes in the size and shape of the ball itself worked to make the modern game.
Back in pre-World War I days, the ball was considerably larger in circumference and heavier than today’s ball. With the coming of the forward pass it was modified; but even so, the smaller ball was extremely difficult to handle in the average human’s hand. Today’s slimmer model makes it easier to grip the ball for length and accuracy.
And as for kicking, I never see any reference to the drop kick, probably the most dramatic play in the whole game. I don’t know if it is even practiced nowadays but it used to count for three points when perfected. (For a drop kick, the ball was kicked on the rebound after being dropped to the ground.) The man on your cover looks to me as if he is drop-kicking.