Two Days After JFK’s Assassination, the Dallas Cowboys Endured Backlash


Two days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963, the Dallas Cowboys played the Browns in front of angry, anguished and hostile fans in Cleveland. Many blamed Dallas, a hotbed of far-right extremism in the early 1960s, for JFK’s death—and by extension the city’s National Football League team.

“We did not feel welcome throughout the United States, no matter where we played, for quite a while,” Pettis Norman, a Cowboys tight end, recalled years later.

Although the nation was enveloped with grief, NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle ignored advice and ordered the full schedule of seven Sunday games to be played—a decision he later called a mistake. Meanwhile, the rival American Football League cancelled all its games out of respect for the fallen president.


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