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Pete Rozelle

FILE - In this Jan. 24, 1961, file photo, Commissioner Pete Rozelle, center, talks with NFL officials in New York. From left are: Bert E. Rose Jr., of the Minneapolis Vikings; Carroll Rosenbloom of Baltimore Colts; Rozelle; Texas Schramm of the Dallas Cowboys and and Walter Wolfner of the St. Louis Cardinals. The 1960 NFL season was played with 13 clubs, with the expansion Dallas Cowboys joining the league that season and the Chicago Cardinals moving to St. Louis. The Minnesota Vikings were an expansion team the following season. (AP Photo/File)

The biggest change in the '60s was the launch of the AFL, which brought more high-powered offensive attacks to professional football in a style of play that still resonates today. The AFL aggressively challenged the NFL by signing several of the top college players and targeting NFL stars behind the leadership of Al Davis, who was the Raiders coach and then commissioner before the merger was announced. The AFL also cleared the way for more black players to enter the league by mining historically black colleges for talent that the NFL had long overlooked.

Pete Rozelle was elected commissioner of the NFL in 1960 and his leadership helped set the stage for the NFL becoming America's dominant sport. One of Rozelle's most lasting accomplishments came early in his tenure when he convinced big market teams such as the New York Giants and Chicago Bears to pool the league's national television rights, assuring that smaller markets such as Green Bay would get an equal share of the revenue. With the value of television rights skyrocketing in the ensuing years, that decision provided more equal footing between franchises and helped establish the parity that Rozelle believed was so crucial to the league's success.


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