Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bart’s Back

In another installment from our archives of press material, we have this from November 24, 1963, when the NFL went ahead and played its full slate of games two days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The original caption (as seen attached on the left side of the photo) reads:

“Milwaukee, Nov. 24 -- BART’S BACK -- Green Bay Packer quarterback Bart Starr (#15) spots receiver Tom Moore (#25) as he makes a turn to take the pass. The pass was complete to Moore for a 6 yard gain in the first quarter at Milwaukee County Stadium today. Starr started the game against the San Francisco 49ers, his first full-time appearance since he suffered a broken hand against St. Louis more than a month ago. The Packers beat the 49ers 28-10. (AP Wirephoto).”

The young NFL Commissioner at the time, Pete Rozelle, made the decision to play the games while the majority of events that weekend around the country were being cancelled. Even the rival American Football League (AFL) postponed its games out of respect for the fallen President. Rozelle soon came to regret his decision to have the NFL play, and frequently stated publicly that it had been his worst mistake. However, Rozelle and then-White House Press Secretary Pierre Salinger had been classmates at the University of San Francisco years before, and Rozelle consulted with him. Salinger urged Rozelle to play the games. Rozelle felt that way, citing that “it has been traditional in sports for athletes to perform in times of great personal tragedy.”

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