This movie was made and released about six years after its source semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Peter Gent was first published in 1973. The name of the football team in the movie is the North Dallas Bulls, loosely based on the real life NFL football team the Dallas Cowboys, which Gent played for between 1964 and 1968.
Source novelist and co-screenwriter Peter Gent once explained the story behind why the title 'North Dallas Forty' was chosen. In an email interview, Gent said: "I was shocked that in 1964 America, Dallas could have an NFL franchise and the black players could not live near the practice field in North Dallas, which was one of the reasons I titled the book 'North Dallas Forty.' I kept asking why the white players put up with their black teammates being forced to live in segregated south Dallas, a long drive to the practice field. The situation was not changed until Mel Renfro filed a 'Fair Housing Suit' in 1969."
The character of Stallings was played by Jim Boeke (billed as James F. Boeke), who was one of source novelist and co-scripter Peter Gent's real-life teammates from the Dallas Cowboys. This was not Boeke's cinema movie debut though, Boeke had film experience, as he had earlier appeared in Heaven Can Wait (1978) and had two other TV credits.