Pete Rozelle

Annie Lee | Mar 20, 2024

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Alwin Jay "Pete" Rozelle († December 6, 1996 in Rancho Santa Fe, California) was an influential U.S. sports official. He served as commissioner of the National Football League from 1960 to 1989. During his tenure, American football became the most popular sport in the United States. With the Super Bowl, he created the largest single sporting event in the world.

Pete Rozelle was the elder of two sons of a grocer. As a result of the Great Depression, the company went bankrupt and his father went to work for Alcoa. Rozelle studied at Compton High School, where he played basketball and tennis. After graduating from high school, he joined the U.S. Navy. He was deployed in the Pacific from 1944 to 1946.

After his military service, Rozelle studied at Compton Junior College. The college campus was also home to the Rams' NFL team, which moved to Los Angeles in 1946. During this time, he began working in the team's publicity department. That department was headed by Tex Schramm at the time. Rozelle then transferred to the University of San Francisco and became head of the athletics group's advertising department. In 1950, he graduated and took on the position of Assistant Athletic Director as his second job. In 1952, he was appointed advertising director of the Los Angeles Rams by Tex Schramm. From 1955 to 1957 he was a partner in a company that organized advertising for the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne. He then returned to work for the Rams.

On October 11, 1959, the Commissioner of the NFL, Bert Bell, had suddenly passed away. This situation caught the football league completely off guard. In addition, the competing American Football League wanted to start play in 1960 and thus attacked the NFL's monopoly. The meeting of the owners starting on January 19, 1960, was therefore important for several reasons. First, the expansion of the league as quickly as possible was on the agenda, and second, a new commissioner had to be found. At the commissioner, the league's acting head and treasurer Austin Gunsel had the highest chances with five supporters (Colts, Eagles, Redskins, Giants and Steelers) and San Francisco 49ers lawyer Marshall Leahy with four supporters (49ers, Rams, Packers and Browns). The Bears, Cardinals and Lions had yet to commit. It was a 3

He moved the headquarters of the NFL from Philadelphia to New York.

As one of his first activities in office, he began negotiating a new television contract for the entire league. A prerequisite, however, was a change in the law. Thus, in 1962, the first league-wide contract was signed with CBS for $9.3 million over a two-year period. These TV contracts in particular increased the popularity of the sport. Whereas in 1960 the 12 teams were each worth one million dollars, this figure had risen to 100 million dollars by 1989. The TV contracts also enabled teams in smaller markets (e.g., Green Bay Packers) to survive economically. His tenure also saw the introduction of Monday Night Games to increase coverage and ratings.

After the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Rozelle, in consultation with White House press secretary and former classmate Pierre Salinger, decided that the following weekend's games would be played. He later came to the conclusion that postponing the games would have been the better decision.

In 1963, he enforced a ban on players Paul Hornung and Alex Karras, who had bet on NFL games against the rules. For this he received the Sportsman of the Year award from Sports Illustrated.

In 1965, the NFL buys Blair Motion Pictures from Ed Sabol. In April 1965, the company is renamed NFL Films.

From the mid-1960s, he intensified talks with the rival AFL. He succeeded in winning over several owners of both leagues for the merger. Since the commissioner of the AFL, the owner of the Raiders, Al Davis vehemently opposed the merger, the agreement was reached without him. The result of this merger was the 1967 AFL-NFL World Championship Game, called the Super Bowl beginning in 1969. Rozelle initially feared that the AFL was athletically inferior to the NFL. But at the latest with the Jets' victory over the Colts in 1969, this proved to be wrong. In addition to this sporting challenge, Rozelle also had to get the merger approved by the U.S. Parliament.

During his tenure, Rozelle had the challenge of a competitive league two more times with the World Football League in 1974 and United States Football League from 1983 to 1985. However, these two attempts proved to be neither financially nor athletically equal.

For the 1970 season, he was responsible for reorganizing the league, which now had 26 teams. He also signed a four-year contract with the NFLPA to pay $4 million annually into a pension fund. During his tenure, game-day cancellations occurred in 1974, 1982, and 1987 due to game strikes.

In 1974, important changes were introduced with modified overtime rules and the relocation of the goalposts behind the end zone.

In 1978, the playing season was expanded to 16 game weeks and 10-team playoffs. Differences with Al Davis, which had existed since 1966, escalated until a court ruling in 1982 made it easier for teams to move their venues from then on. In the 1980s, Rozelle's ability to operate independently was severely limited by several owners' committees.

In 1989, Pete Rozelle ended his tenure as Commissioner, but remained a consultant for the League.

Rozelle married the actress Jane Marilyn Coupe in 1949.1958 was born their daughter Anne Marie. In 1972 the marriage was divorced due to Jane's alcoholism. In 1975 Rozelle received custody of his daughter. In 1974 he married Carrie Cooke, the former daughter-in-law of the owner of the Washington Redskins, Jack Kent Cooke.

In 1996 he died of a brain tumor.

In 1985, Rozelle was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Super Bowl MVP trophy has been named after Rozelle since October 8, 1990: The trophy so designated was first awarded at Super Bowl XXV.

In 1999, "The Sporting News" called him the most powerful person in sports in the 20th century.


  1. Pete Rozelle
  2. Pete Rozelle
  3. ^ "Rozelle praised as the greatest". Tuscaloosa News. Alabama. Associated Press. December 8, 1996. p. 10.
  4. «Rozelle praised as the greatest». Tuscaloosa News. Alabama. Associated Press. 8 de dezembro de 1996. p. 10

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