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Pete Rozelle Biography

Born Near Los Angeles, Replaces Bell At Helm Of Nfl, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments


American football commissioner

For nearly three decades, Pete Rozelle guided professional football as the commissioner of the National Football League (NFL). Under his direction, pro football attained unprecedented popularity with the American public, as well as a level of profitability that far exceeded anything seen before Rozelle. He engineered the merger of the rival American Football League (AFL) into the NFL, paving the way for the annual Super Bowl, a face-off between the best in the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). Upon Rozelle's death in 1996, Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, told USA Today: "I think his greatest achievement was to supervise and organize growth at a time when other sports were battling and fighting among themselves. He had the ability to create compromise and make things work." A Gallup Poll in 1960, the year Rozelle took over the reins of the NFL, showed that thirty-four percent of Americans named baseball as their favorite sport, while twenty-one

Pete Rozelle

percent preferred football. In just the first twelve years of Rozelle's leadership of the NFL, the game's popularity skyrocketed. In another Gallup Poll taken in 1972, thirty-six percent of Americans picked football as their favorite sport, while baseball had fallen to a popularity rate of only twenty-one percent.

Sketch by Don Amerman

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Famous Sports StarsFootball