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AFL-NFL Merger

     In 1966, Alvin Rozelle and other Professional Football executives lobbied the 89th United States Congress to pass legislation permitting the merger of the NFL with the American Football League.

    They appeared before the Congress' Subcommittee on Antitrust, chaired by New York congressman Emanuel Celler.  In their appearances, two points were repeatedly made:

(1)  Rozelle promised  that if the merger was allowed, no existing Professional Football franchise of either league would be moved from any city; and

(2)  Stadiums seating 50,000 were declared to be adequate for Professional Football's needs.

     That is, if the merger was permitted, Professional Football would keep its existing teams in the cities AND stadiums that had teams in 1966.

      For passing Public Law 89-800 (PL 89-800) and agreeing to allow the merger that eliminated the name, logo and identity of the American Football League (the genesis of modern Professional Football); and for then ignoring the breach of trust the NFL repeatedly committed by allowing teams to move and demand ever-larger stadiums; the 89th United States Congress is consigned to the "American Football League Hall of Infamy".

      Below is an article about the merger, written in 1971 by Baltimore News-American Sports Editor John Steadman.  To see the scanned version of the article, go to "John Steadman article".   Also see Jerry Magee's more recent column for the San Diego Union.

Paul Brown PFRA

Tex Maule

CBS-TV "pro football"
Hall of Fame
Bud Adams


Rozelle Assured Congress Teams Wouldn't Move

Sports Editor
Baltimore News-American

         Professional football could find itself in troubled waters if it goes through with plans to move the New York Giants across the Hudson River to the swamps of New Jersey, because of what Commis­sioner Pete Rozelle told a Congressional committee in 1966.
         Rozelle, the top authority in pro football, testified that all teams would remain in their "present locations" and, furthermore, as an added assurance, would operate in the same stadiums.
         This original promise made by Rozelle is back to haunt him and the National Football League only five years later. The Giants have made plans to leave Yankee Stadium, the city and the state of New York for a better deal across the river, beginning in 1975.
         Other teams, the Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Colts and New England Patriots, made statements that they might also consider greener pastures but didn't make a move. The Giants, though, are the first to announce they're taking their football and going someplace else to play for the love of more money.
         What happened to Rozelle's well-defined and recorded outline of what the involved teams would do if Congress allowed the merger to go through of the American Football League and National Football League?
         His words are being flagrantly violated by the Giants, a member team in his league that has been located in New York for 46 years.
         There was so much of a financial desire on the, part of football's owners to merge the leagues and save money in the bidding for players that all kinds of sweet, romantic words were cunningly cooed to the press and public.
         But shouldn't pro football be made to uphold its stated position and the way it presented itself be­fore Congress?

 Rozelle's Testimony Being Violated

         The first point Rozelle made, quoting from the official text of the pro football merger, as put before the Anti-Trust Subcommittee of the 89th Congress, second session, dealt specifically with where the teams would play.
         On page 37 of document S. 3817, serial No. 22, dated Oct. 6, 11 and 13, 1966, Rozelle submitted this testimony ...

          "The plan for the expanded league is embodied in an agreement between member clubs of the two leagues which was entered into during the first week of June of this year. That agreement has been filed with counsel for this committee. I will outline for you its principal features:


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

 "2. Two new franchises will be added by the 1968 season, making a total of 26 teams. (Editor’s Note: Cincinnati and New Orleans joined.)
"3. Studies will then be made of the feasibility of adding two more franchises.
"4. A world championship game between the champions of the two present leagues will be established beginning in January, 1967.
"5. Following this championship game, a player selection system will be instituted by the combined leagues with priority of selection determined by the won-loss record of each during the 1966 season.
"6. Pre-season games will be played between the teams of the two present leagues beginning with the 1967 season.
"7. By 1970 there will be full integration of the combined league schedule with regular season games being played by the clubs of the two present leagues.
"8. During the period prior to 1970, each league will continue to operate under existing TV contracts. Beginning in 1970, there will be an equal division of TV income among all clubs of the combined league."

Before Celler Committee

         Later, in his lengthy Congressional statements, Rozelle further spelled out what the NFL would do if allowed to merge with the AFL. He said this: 

         "Professional football operations will be preserved in the 23 cities and 25 stadiums where such operations are presently being conducted. This alone is a matter of considerable public interest--to local economies, stadium authorities and consumers. Without the plan, franchise moves and/or franchise failures will occur as a matter of course within the next few years."

         But exactly the opposite of what Rozelle outlined has happened with the disclosure that the Giants are moving their franchise to a site in Northern New Jersey.
         Point No. 1, as stipulated by Rozelle in his Congressional appearance, has been violated if the Giants are allowed to pull out of New York. Pete's plea for a green legal light on the controversial merger was predicated on the basis that if permission wasn't granted, pro football would deteriorate and fall apart.

         His statements were made before the chairman of the subcommittee, Emanuel D. Celler, D-N. Y. And now it is Celler who is being asked by Mayor John Lindsay to conduct a Federal investigation.
         All Celler need do is get out Rozelle's testimony before his anti-trust hearings of the House of Representatives. Point No. 1 is being ignored. What will Congress think now?
         Mayor Lindsay, in his fight to keep the Giants from going south with the money, said . . . "I have asked Chairman Emanuel Celler of the House Judiciary Committee to conduct an inquiry into this matter . .  . (it) related directly to Congressman Celler's concern when he fought against Congressional action giving professional football certain exemptions from Federal anti-trust laws."
         The revelation of Rozelle's remarks before Congress were made by Angelo Coniglio, a 34-year-old hydraulic engineer who lives in Amherst, N. Y., and the same freedom-fighter who also is bringing a lawsuit against those National Football League clubs that make the buying of exhibition games a mandatory obligation for regular season ticket holders.
         "I don't see how Rozelle could make a statement before a Congressional committee that is pertinent to a merger and then, five years later, this vital and important promise be ignored," said Coniglio. "But, then again, I don't see how any fair-minded man, in or out of the court of law, would allow the practice of forcing exhibition games on the public. No other business in our country can do this."
         Coniglio said he has been alarmed to find some members of the news media, obviously those trying to court favor, who will not dare report adverse things about the NFL or Rozelle. He said one sports writer tore him apart in print and said how could Coniglio, just a plain citizen, possibly defy a genius like Rozelle.
         However, Coniglio says the Congressional. testimony of five years ago only accommodated the owners and did not allow "a single fan, a single player or a single sports writer to give his views regarding the good and bad things of the merger."
         He said he even tried to get a complete copy of the merger statement Rozelle made before Congress' anti-trust committee but was told, by the Government Printing Office, that the supply had been depleted
         "I've found in my numerous investigations that the National Football League has a way of covering up evidence," said Coniglio. "I hope the NFL office doesn't have all the copies."
         He said that he was going to be in touch with Lindsay to remind him of Rozelle's commitment to Congress.

Original Steadman Article

Webmaster's note: Since the "stabilizing" merger, the following teams have moved, from a few miles, to hundreds of miles and across several states: Giants, Jets, Bills, Colts, Raiders (twice), Cardinals, Rams, Browns, Oilers (twice) and Patriots.  Those teams moved to new stadiums built to attract them, paid for by billions of dollars in public funds, except for the Patriots' new stadium.  In addition, citizens of the following areas have had to ante up more billions to build new stadiums to keep or regain franchises: Kansas City, St. Louis, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Minnesota, Houston, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Washington. 

(See Jerry Magee's article on franchise moves)

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