Born Monday 1 March 1926, died Friday 6 December 1996
People are interested in pro football because it provides them with an emotional oasis; they don't want football to get involved in the same types of court cases, racial problems and legislative issues they encounter in the rest of American life.
I'm not saying that the press is wrong to report any internal differences we have, but at the same time, I think it's our job to keep them from becoming public issues, for anything that detracts from the purely athletic aspects of the sport is bad for us.
I'm not claiming that football is the nation's salvation in this area, but it's one of them, one little thing that apparently has captured the imagination of a large sector of our society. But when football can't be a relatively pure outlet, a fun thing, then it hurts itself.
I think the big thing I've had going for me in that regard has been the success of the league. I don't have quite as much control over things as people believe, so I frequently receive more credit than I deserve, and occasionally more criticism as well.
I don't know if 1300 players could really participate in the selection of a commissioner, and I've never given it a great deal of thought. I think it's a logical point they could make, but it's only an academic one.
At last, someone came to tell me I'd been selected as commissioner, which gave rise to the line that I took the job with clean hands. I was then taken downstairs to a press conference, and the reporters were as surprised as I was.