Pete Rozelle

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Born Monday 1 March 1926, died Friday 6 December 1996

Occupation: Celebrity

Nationality: American

The most difficult owner for me was the late George Marshall of Washington.

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Squabbling in public will eventually ruin football; there's no doubt it's hurting us already. Polls taken by Louis Harris - polls as valid as any political polls - indicate that very clearly.

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Rather than saying that the commissioner is hired by the owners and therefore is subservient to them, you have to look at whether or not the players are getting a fair shake.

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Pro football was taking off when I became commissioner, and when a sport's successful and you're its chief executive officer, much of the credit flows to you and you develop a good track record.

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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.

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In fact, an awful lot of N.F.L. club owners have practically no influence on their players at all, simply because they're not full-time working owners.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Considering what Americans have been confronted with in the last ten years, domestically and internationally, it's clear that we need emotional outlets; we have to have some peace from our problems.

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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.

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There are a lot more TV sets in use on Monday night than on Sunday afternoon.

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Every franchise of both leagues will remain in its present location.

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At least I'm going into the job with clean hands.

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But I haven't met a player or a coach whose goal isn't to win the Super Bowl.

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