CBS may not be interested in having its former correspondent Dan Rather participate in its JFK assassination 50th anniversary plans, but ESPN is delighted to have him. The network said today that Rather will narrate Rozelle’s Decision-to-Play, one of its pieces planned to commemorate the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, set to air this Sunday at 8 AM on ESPN2 and 9 AM on ESPNEWS. The special will be re-aired throughout the week on SportsCenter and the network’s various NFL programming leading up to November 22nd.
President John F. Kennedy had been shot and killed 50 years ago next Friday just a few miles from where the Dallas Cowboys were practicing. The decision to play games just two days after the assassination was left to 37-year-old Pete Rozelle, in just his fourth season as NFL Commissioner. Rather, who helped coordinate CBS’ coverage of Kennedy’s trip to Dallas and was the first reporter to confirm Kennedy’s death, narrates the story of Rozelle’s decision — one the late commissioner called the biggest regret of his career, ESPN says.
“He says, ‘Pierre (Press Secretary Pierre Salinger) thinks that Jack Kennedy would like the games to be on. I think that’s what we have to do.’ I said, ‘Well look, I disagree with you, but I’ll back you.’ ” — Dan Rooney, in charge of Pittsburgh Steelers’ day-to-day operations and son of owner Art Rooney
“I was hoping it would be played so our team could help heal the city of Dallas. I just felt like we needed to play the game.” – Lee Roy Jordan, former Dallas Cowboy