Cover image for Rozelle : a biography
Rozelle : a biography
Izenberg, Jerry.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, [2014]
Physical Description:
xv, 305 pages, 10 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
"A biography of Pete Rozelle, the man who brought the NFL to the forefront of professional sports"--
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV939.R695 .I94 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
GV939.R695 I94 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
GV939.R695 .I94 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
GV939.R695 .I94 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
GV939.R695 .I94 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Rozelle chronicles the life and times of the architect of the modern National Football League, Pete Rozelle, who transformed football into arguably the most successful sports league in the world. While he was never considered a serious candidate for the job of NFL commissioner early on, the position ultimately catapulted Rozelle into the role through which he transformed the NFL and became a trailblazer for all sports in the second half of the twentieth century. When he became commissioner in 1960, the league had twelve teams playing to half-empty stadiums and was mired in an outdated business model. Rozelle introduced revenue and television profit sharing to guarantee the success of small-market teams and brought every NFL game to national television.nbsp;
nbsp; Rozelle's monumental achievements include the introduction of the Super Bowl in the '60s followed by the NFL's most rapid expansion and the establishment of Monday Night Football . The '80s saw Rozelle presiding over drug scandals, labor struggles, and the league's legal battles with team owners such as Oakland's Al Davis, who famously won a lawsuit to move his Raiders to Los Angeles.
nbsp; Jerry Izenberg chronicles the iconic life of Rozelle, who revolutionized the culture of sports in America and is responsible for turning the NFL into the preeminent sports league in the world.
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Author Notes

Jerry Izenberg is a sports columnist emeritus for the Newark Star-Ledger and is the author of several books, including Through My Eyes: A Sports Writer's 58-Year Journey . He won the Red Smith Award from the Associated Press Sports Editors and was inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame in 2000. David Stern is former commissioner of the National Basketball Association.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Izenberg is one of a handful of veteran sportswriters who has covered all 48 Super Bowls, and his intricate knowledge of the inner workings of the NFL serves him well here. The author started writing this biography in the 1970s and set it aside for decades before finishing it recently. Many of the people he originally interviewed are now deceased, so it is fortunate that he preserved their insights into Pete Rozelle (1926-96), perhaps the most significant commissioner in U.S. sports history. In 2007, Rozelle was the subject of a substantial and definitive biography by Jeff Davis, but this shorter work gives a different perspective and is essential reading, too. The author employs a delightfully old-school sports writing style and his sources provide sharp, revealing stories that have not previously been disclosed. Tableaus depicting Rozelle's interactions with longtime secretary Thelma Elkjer and NFL power broker Tex Schramm are particularly striking. The book admiringly makes a strong case that Rozelle was the indispensable man behind the NFL's explosive growth into a massive cultural and economic force in American society. VERDICT All professional football fans will enjoy this well-reported biography of a seminal figure in NFL history.-John Maxymuk, Rutgers Univ. Lib., Camden, NJ (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Pete Rozelle was one of eight men to serve as commissioner of the National Football League, and he was the longest serving of the eight. He took the NFL from a "cottage industry" living on the financial (and interest) edge to the cultural and media behemoth it is today. During his 30-year reign, he brought to the league fixtures now taken for granted--the Super Bowl, which will turn 50 (L in NFLese) next year, and Monday Night Football. Today, the NFL and its current commissioner, Roger Goodell, wrestle with concussions on the field and domestic abuse scandals off it; Rozelle dealt with contentious labor issues (players and their quest for free agency), gambling, antitrust matters, including league mergers and broadcasting, and recalcitrant owners. He also recast the league's business model. In Rozelle, respected sports journalist Jerry Izenberg takes readers behind the scenes and into the minds of the commissioner and his contemporaries. The book, which relies almost exclusively on personal interviews, is heavy on insider perspectives, knowledge, and anecdotes and light on analysis, economic or otherwise. A thoroughly engaging volume for ardent sports junkies, but for scholars and policy makers, not so much. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers; professionals. --Allen R. Sanderson, University of Chicago

Table of Contents

David Stern
List of Illustrationsp. ix
Forewordp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Prologuep. 1
1 In the Beginningp. 7
2 Moving Onp. 28
3 The Accidental Coronationp. 43
4 The Boy Wonder Takes Center Stagep. 52
5 How Do You Tell Vince?p. 62
6 Heads They Win, Tails He Losesp. 81
7 The 100-Yard Armageddonp. 90
8 Sex, Lies, and Bringing Up Babyp. 105
9 Ain't Gonna Study No War No Morep. 126
10 Bringing in the Sheavesp. 141
11 The Failed Coupsp. 162
12 Power to the Tacklesp. 177
13 Another Day, Another Dragon to Slayp. 196
14 At War with the Counterculturep. 210
15 Davis Again: Fend without Endp. 222
16 Never Take a Knife to a Gunfightp. 234
17 The Final Battlesp. 254
18 Death Be Not Proudp. 272
List of Interviewsp. 285
Notesp. 287
Indexp. 297