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5 Things You Didn't Know About Pete Rozelle

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You know the stories of the great players who have shaped the Super Bowl, but how well do you know the man who made the big game possible? Pete Rozelle spent 29 years as the NFL's commissioner, so in honor of the Super Bowl, let's take a look at a few things you might not know about him.

1. He Hated the Name "Super Bowl"

The story of Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt suggesting the name "Super Bowl" after seeing his kids playing with a Super Ball is a familiar one, but what you might not know is that Rozelle hated the name. When he helped create the game, Rozelle wanted to call it the "AFL-NFL Championship Game," which you've got to admit leaves something to be desired in the catchiness department. Owners then considered "the Big One," before deciding that sounded a bit silly, too. Only then did Hunt propose the Super Bowl idea, which passed over Rozelle's strong objections.


Rozelle hated the name so much that during the first two Super Bowls he actually asked his publicists and reporters not to use the name. Rozelle later explained, "I thought it was corny. "˜Super' was a word we used at Compton High."

Rozelle does, however, get credit for adding Roman numerals to the game's name. He later explained that since the game was played in January following the fall season, simply referring to it with a year would be confusing. "It's not an affectation, as some charge. It's for clarification. When you say Super Bowl I, it helps you remember it as a 1967 game for the 1966 championship."

2. He Was a Super Dad

Rozelle's first wife, Jane, had a serious alcohol problem that required inpatient treatments that lasted for months at a time. Although Rozelle was busy helming the quickly expanding NFL, he never neglected his daughter, though. Little Anne Rozelle was a fixture at the NFL's offices, and the commissioner would take off of work early to help with her homework or take her to dinner. When Rozelle's marriage to Jane ended in 1967, he was awarded custody of his daughter, an incredibly rare occurrence in that era. Anne later said, "My dad always made every school event; I don't know how he did that but he did."

Of course, Rozelle wasn't always perfect. When Anne spoke at his memorial service in 1997, she told the story of the year even the NFL commissioner had trouble finding a talking Barbie for Christmas. Anne remembered, "Dad went to every black-market source he could, and there it was at Christmas. When I pulled the string for her to talk, it said, 'Buenos dias. Donde esta Ken?'"

3. He Couldn't Beat Doris Day

doris-dayRozelle may have been able to go toe-to-toe with some of the world's greatest football players, but he couldn't compete with beloved actress Doris Day. Rozelle brainstormed the idea for Monday Night Football during the 1960s, and he felt that putting the NFL in a weekly primetime slot was a surefire ratings bonanza.


Rozelle took his revolutionary new idea to CBS for a pitch meeting. The network's executives laughed and said, "You want us to move Doris Day?" Rozelle was undeterred, though, and convinced ABC to host Monday Night Football. The Doris Day Show ended its run in 1973; Monday Night Football is currently TV's second-longest running primetime show, behind 60 Minutes.

4. He Had One Regret

After Rozelle retired from the NFL in 1989, he was fairly open with the press about certain decisions he had made during his tenure as commissioner. Rozelle repeatedly said that his biggest regret was not canceling the league's games two days after the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

According to Rozelle, he struggled mightily with the decision about whether or not the players should take the field that Sunday. In the end, he called White House Press Secretary Pierre Salinger, an old classmate from the University of San Francisco, and asked, "We've got planes with the players ready to get in the air and I don't know when the services will be. What can you tell me?"

Salinger urged Rozelle to play the games, so the NFL schedule went on without delay that Sunday. The rival AFL, on the other hand, cancelled its entire slate of games out of respect for JFK. Rozelle, who was friends with the Kennedy family, immediately regretted the decision, and he spent a week getting lambasted in the media for allowing the games to go on.

5. He Knew How to Hide Out

rozelle-siWhen NFL Commissioner Bert Bell died in 1959, the league's owners suddenly needed a replacement. The only problem was that they couldn't agree on a suitable man for the job. The owners met in January 1960 and spent a week trying to decide on a new commish. They voted 22 times, but they just couldn't agree.


Eventually, they struck on a compromise candidate: 33-year-old Los Angeles Rams GM Pete Rozelle. The owners asked Rozelle to excuse himself from the room while they discussed his qualifications, and the young GM then had a problem of his own: he was getting swamped by reporters in the hall outside of the hotel conference room where the meeting was taking place. So he went to the only logical place a man can hide in a hotel: the bathroom.


The problem with hiding out in a bathroom is that there's not a lot to do, though. Rozelle occupied himself by washing his hands whenever another patron came in. When the owners eventually called for Rozelle and told him he had the job, he quipped, "I can honestly say that I come to you with clean hands."

'5 Things You Didn't Know About...' appears every Friday. Read the previous installments here.

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5 Things You Didn't Know About Ansel Adams

You probably know Ansel Adams—born on February 20, 1902—as the man who helped promote the National Park Service through his magnificent photographs, but there was a lot more to the shutterbug than his iconic, black-and-white vistas. Here are five lesser-known facts about the celebrated photographer.

1. AN EARTHQUAKE LED TO HIS DISTINCTIVE NOSE.

Adams was a four-year-old tot when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck his hometown. Although the boy managed to escape injury during the quake itself, an aftershock threw him face-first into a garden wall, breaking his nose. According to a 1979 interview with TIME, Adams said that doctors told his parents that it would be best to fix the nose when the boy matured. He joked, "But of course I never did mature, so I still have the nose." The nose became Adams' most striking physical feature. His buddy Cedric Wright liked to refer to Adams' honker as his "earthquake nose.

2. HE ALMOST BECAME A PIANIST.

Adams was an energetic, inattentive student, and that trait coupled with a possible case of dyslexia earned him the heave-ho from private schools. It was clear, however, that he was a sharp boy—when motivated.

When Adams was just 12 years old, he taught himself to play the piano and read music, and he quickly showed a great aptitude for it. For nearly a dozen years, Adams focused intensely on his piano training. He was still playful—he would end performances by jumping up and sitting on his piano—but he took his musical education seriously. Adams ultimately devoted over a decade to his study, but he eventually came to the realization that his hands simply weren't big enough for him to become a professional concert pianist. He decided to leave the keys for the camera after meeting photographer Paul Strand, much to his family's dismay.

3. HE HELPED CREATE A NATIONAL PARK.

If you've ever enjoyed Kings Canyon National Park in California, tip your cap to Adams. In the 1930s Adams took a series of photographs that eventually became the book Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail. When Adams sent a copy to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, the cabinet member showed it to Franklin Roosevelt. The photographs so delighted FDR that he wouldn't give the book back to Ickes. Adams sent Ickes a replacement copy, and FDR kept his with him in the White House.

After a few years, Ickes, Adams, and the Sierra Club successfully convinced Roosevelt to make Kings Canyon a national park in 1940. Roosevelt's designation specifically provided that the park be left totally undeveloped and roadless, so the only way FDR himself would ever experience it was through Adams' lenses.

4. HE WELCOMED COMMERCIAL ASSIGNMENTS.

While many of his contemporary fine art photographers shunned commercial assignments as crass or materialistic, Adams went out of his way to find paying gigs. If a company needed a camera for hire, Adams would generally show up, and as a result, he had some unlikely clients. According to The Ansel Adams Gallery, he snapped shots for everyone from IBM to AT&T to women's colleges to a dried fruit company. All of this commercial print work dismayed Adams' mentor Alfred Stieglitz and even worried Adams when he couldn't find time to work on his own projects. It did, however, keep the lights on.

5. HE AND GEORGIA O'KEEFFE WERE FRIENDS.

Adams and legendary painter O'Keeffe were pals and occasional traveling buddies who found common ground despite their very different artistic approaches. They met through their mutual friend/mentor Stieglitz—who eventually became O'Keeffe's husband—and became friends who traveled throughout the Southwest together during the 1930s. O'Keeffe would paint while Adams took photographs.

These journeys together led to some of the artists' best-known work, like Adams' portrait of O'Keeffe and a wrangler named Orville Cox, and while both artists revered nature and the American Southwest, Adams considered O'Keeffe the master when it came to capturing the area. 

“The Southwest is O’Keeffe’s land,” he wrote. “No one else has extracted from it such a style and color, or has revealed the essential forms so beautifully as she has in her paintings.”

The two remained close throughout their lives. Adams would visit O'Keeffe's ranch, and the two wrote to each other until Adams' death in 1984.

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5 Things You Should Know About Robert Todd Lincoln
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Robert Todd Lincoln was Abraham Lincoln's oldest son and the only Lincoln child to survive into adulthood. While he didn't make quite the mark on history that his father did, Robert Lincoln had a pretty interesting life himself. Let's take a look at five things you might not know about him:

1. He Was on Ulysses S. Grant's Personal Staff

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Part of Abraham Lincoln's mystique lies in his humble roots as a self-made man who found education where he could. His eldest son didn't have to go through quite as many trials and tribulations to do some learning, though. Robert left Springfield, Illinois, to attend boarding school at New Hampshire's elite Phillips Exeter Academy when he was a young man, and he later graduated from Harvard during his father's presidency.

After completing his undergrad degree, Robert stuck around Cambridge to go to Harvard Law School, but that arrangement didn't last very long. After studying law for just a few months, Lincoln received a commission as a captain in the army. Lincoln's assignment put him on Ulysses S. Grant's personal staff, so he didn't see much fighting. He did get a nice view of history, though; Lincoln was present as part of Grant's junior staff at Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.

After the war ended, Lincoln moved to Chicago with his mother and brother and wrapped up his legal studies.

2. The Booth Family Did Him a Favor

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In 1863 or 1864, young Robert Lincoln was traveling by train from New York to Washington during a break from his studies at Harvard. He hopped off the train during a stop at Jersey City, only to find himself on an extremely crowded platform. To be polite, Lincoln stepped back to wait his turn to walk across the platform, his back pressed to one of the train's cars.

This situation probably seemed harmless enough until the train started moving, which whipped Lincoln around and dropped him into the space between the platform and train, an incredibly dangerous place to be.

Lincoln probably would have been dead meat if a stranger hadn't yanked him out of the hole by his collar. That stranger? None other than Edwin Booth, one of the most celebrated actors of the 19th century and brother of eventual Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth.

Lincoln immediately recognized the famous thespian "“ this was sort of like if George Clooney pulled you from a burning car today "“ and thanked him effusively. The actor had no idea whose life he had saved until he received a letter commending him for his bravery in saving the President's son a few months later.

3. He Had a Strange Knack for Being Near Assassinations

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Lee's surrender wasn't the only history Lincoln ended up witnessing, although things got a bit grislier for him after Appomattox. As he arrived back in Washington in April 1865 Lincoln's parents invited him to go see Our American Cousin at Ford's Theater with them. The young officer was so exhausted after his journey that he begged off so he could get a good night's sleep. That night, of course, John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln's father, and Robert Todd was with the celebrated president when he passed away the next morning.

By 1881, Lincoln's political lineage and prominence as a lawyer qualified him for a national office, and he became Secretary of War under the newly inaugurated James A. Garfield. That July, Lincoln was scheduled to travel to Elberon, New Jersey, by train with the President, but the trip never took off. Before Lincoln and Garfield's train could leave the station, Charles Guiteau shot the Garfield, who died of complications from the wound two months later.

Oddly, that wasn't all for Lincoln, though. Two decades passed without a presidential assassination, but Lincoln's strange luck reared its head again in 1901. Lincoln traveled to Buffalo at the invitation of President William McKinley to attend the Pan-American Exposition. Although he arrived a bit late to the even, Lincoln was on his way to meet McKinley when anarchist Leon Czolgosz shot the president twice at close range.

Following these three bits of bad luck Lincoln refused to attend any presidential functions. He dryly noted that there was "a certain fatality about the presidential function when I am present."

4. He Realized His Mom Was a Little Nutty

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Mary Todd Lincoln is fairly widely renowned today for being mentally ill, but it wasn't quite such an open secret when she was still alive. Robert, however, realized that his mother needed psychiatric help so she didn't become a danger to herself or an embarrassment to her family, so he had her involuntarily committed to a mental hospital in 1875 following a hearing that declared her insane.

Mary Todd was none too pleased about this plan. She not only snuck letters to her lawyer to help her escape from the institution, she also wrote newspaper editors in an effort to convince the public of her sanity. Mary Todd's ploy worked; at a second sanity hearing in 1876 she was declared sane and released from the Batavia, Illinois, sanatorium to which she'd been confined. However, by this point she'd been publicly humiliated and never really patched up her relationship with Robert before her death in 1882.

5. He Made Some Serious Dough on the Railroads

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Once he got his legal practice up and running, Lincoln found a particularly lucrative clientele in the booming railroad industry. He spent most of his career working as a corporate lawyer for various railroads and train-related companies; the only breaks were his four-year stint as Secretary of War under Garfield and successor Chester A. Arthur and a four-year hitch as a minister to Britain under President Benjamin Harrison.

One of Lincoln's major clients was the Pullman Palace Car Company, for which he served as general counsel. When founder George Pullman died in 1897, Lincoln became president of the company, and in 1911 he became chairman of the Pullman Company's board. His lofty position in one of the country's most lucrative companies made him a millionaire and enabled Lincoln to build a sprawling estate, Hildene, in Manchester, Vermont.

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