NFL: Who Is Pete Rozelle?
Pete Rozelle was the third official commissioner in the history of the National Football League (NFL). He held that position from 1960 to 1989, evolving the league from the then 12 teams, to a total of 28 by his retirement. He is also credited for instituting the league's revenue-sharing business model, which is still used today. He is also known as one of the architects for unifying both the NFL and AFL in their merger, agreed to in 1966.
Pete Rozelle modernized NFL and the game of football
Due to Pete Rozelle's ability to negotiate television contracts in the United States, each game during the NFL season was broadcasted throughout the country. He was able to put together deals with ABC and CBS, which then caused both networks to compete for airtime, making the opportunity for higher revenue shares for his league a nearly instant reality. This business move has grown to make television revenue in the NFL account for just over half of its total revenue.
A product of the AFL-NFL merger (finalized in 1970), was the AFL-NFL World Championship Game, the game we now know as the Super Bowl.
He was also instrumental in the design of the game's championship trophy, along with help from the famed jeweler, Tiffany & Co., in 1967.
Pete Rozelle's Legacy in the Game
The nearly 30 years of work Pete Rozelle contributed to the NFL has made the game an institution in the United States. At this point, the game is often called, "America's Game", and the Super Bowl is commonly considered a "holiday" of sorts, for both serious and casual football fans alike.
Pete Rozelle was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985, even when he was still currently serving as NFL Commissioner. The season after his retirement (1990), the Super Bowl MVP Award, was renamed in his honor.
Sadly, Pete Rozelle passed away on December 6, 1996, at the age of 70. When he left the NFL's top job, he was succeeded by Paul Tagliabue, who served from 1989 to 2006.