No Day for Games: Program documents Dallas Cowboys game 2 days after JFK's assassination

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - For all the moments on Andy Greenspan's living room wall, one has drawn him, again and again. The framed newspaper headline announcing President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.

"It was the first time I had ever seen my parents cry," Greenspan recalled.

According to the cliché, the nation stopped. But there is video of a football game that shows otherwise.

A Kennedy staffer told NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle that the Kennedys wanted them to play on Sunday. So two days after the assassination, they did, including the Dallas Cowboys, the representatives of the city where the president was murdered. The city already known for a distaste of Kennedy's policies.

"So when Dallas went into Cleveland to play the Browns that weekend, death threats were phoned into Art Modell, the owner of the Browns, the threats were that if the game was played, coaches and presumably players, would be shot," Greenspan said.

The film producer has spent the last year interviewing former players, historians, football executives and gathering footage.

His documentary is called No Day for Games. "One of the Cowboys told me, ‘we were the Dallas Cowboys, we were connected with killing the president of the United States,' which of course they weren't, in no way possible, they were grieving as well."

The Cowboys felt as though they were playing at gunpoint.

"They were called assassins, Kennedy killers, murderers," Greenspan said.

It was a poorly played game. The Cowboys lost.

Pete Rozelle, the late former commissioner of the National Football League, once said his decision to play NFL games two days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was his biggest mistake.

And Greenspan said America learned something: Stopping is sometimes healthy.

"This is a time to pause, to reflect and to honor," he said.

The documentary airs Wednesday night at 11 p.m on the NBC sports network.   Bob Costas is the host.

 

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