Short Biography of Pete Rozelle
Known as a staunch publicist, a counselor who brought together a league, and one of the main reasons Monday Night Football and the Super Bowl ever existed, Pete Rozelle was inducted into the National Foot Ball League’s Hall of fame in 1985. Additionally, his tenure saw the rise of nearly 15 new teams into the NFL and increased fanfare on all levels.
Before working as a publicist and attending classes at the University of California, Rozelle was drafted into the Navy with the onslaught of the war. In the Pacific Ocean, he served on an oil tanker and didn’t see much in the way of action. He graduated four years later in 1949 from university and began working with the LA Rams’ publicity team that same year.
Rozelle was successful as a publicist, so much in fact, that he was asked to join a firm in southern California to help publicize the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. With the Rams, Pete Rozelle climbed his way up the NFL list of prominent positions and was asked to become the general manager of the Rams. Through his work and advocacy with the media, the Rams became a team others were forced to reckon. From a team that had not profited in years, Rozelle ignited a fire that blazed on all levels. He was made the NFL commissioner soon after.
Pete Rozelle was also known as a true sportsman in every sense of the word. When he allowed the NFL to continue playing games as news about the assassination of JFK was sweeping through the US, he admitted it was one of his worst mistakes. He was able to humbly bring a togetherness the NFL had never seen before – the AFL and NFL even combined franchises, sharing revenues and playing what would become the most watched event on television every year – the Super Bowl. Through the revenues earned, Rozelle was able to make lucrative contracts with television stations willing to pay millions to broadcast NFL games. In 1963, he was Sports Illustrated magazine’s Sportsman of the Year.
The 1970s was Rozelle’s most profitable year as the NFL commissioner. Team expansion, wider media coverage, and greater attendance levels meant rising profit for players, coaches, and owners alike. The 1980s saw more of a power struggle as teams opted to leave their home cities in search of better contracts and newer stadiums. While this did some damage to the NFL as a whole – even leading them to declare bankruptcy – the league eventually climbed out of its slump and back to the great empire Rozelle had created over two decades of profitable decision making.