NEW YORK (AP) – For a compromise candidate not even under consideration when the voting began, Pete Rozelle sure achieved a lot as NFL commissioner. Indeed, the man who led the NFL from 1960-89 generally is regarded as the best league boss in sports history – not just in pro football. “He did more for professional football and the NFL than any other sports executive has done,” Wellington Mara, then owner of the New York Giants, said of Rozelle. Rozelle’s predecessor, Bert Bell, helped popularize the league, but its following still lagged behind the college game. Bell died in October 1959 of a heart attack while at a Steelers-Eagles game in Philadelphia, and NFL owners gathered three months later to elect a new commissioner. Initially, there were three candidates, none named Rozelle. Austin Gunsel temporarily had taken the post after Bell’s death and was backed by several longtime owners. 49ers counsel Marshall Leahy was supported by a group of newer owners. Lions President Edwin Anderson also was in consideration. The voting – and back-room politicking – began. It didn’t cease through 20 rounds and nearly a week of balloting. Then Rams owner Dan Reeves, and Browns owner Paul Brown sought… Read full this story
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