Two days after John F. Kennedy was assassinated and NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle made his controversial decision to play the league’s games two days later, the late Cleveland Browns Owner Art Modell told the stadium’s announcer not to say “Dallas” because he thought it could inflame a crowd that was blaming the city for JFK’s death.
“It may be difficult, but I don’t want you to use the word ‘Dallas’ throughout the game. I think there is so much anger directed toward Dallas, let’s just use ‘Cowboys’ the entire game,” stadium announcer Johnny Holliday recalled Modell telling him on “No Day for Games” on the NBC Sports Network.
Lee Roy Jordan of the Cowboys said since they “were the team from Dallas, Texas, we were connected with killing the President of the United States. Former Cowboys executive Gil Brandt said he was told, “go out and have dinner if you want, but don’t say you are from Dallas.” Other Cowboys players were told not to make a scene that weekend in Cleveland, and the daughter of the Browns head coach recalled that people had called and threatened to shoot the coaches on the field if they went on with the game.
Dallas players also recalled that there were no introductions before the games, and fans called them “Kennedy killers” and “assassins.” Cleveland fans threw bottles and other objects at the Cowboys players.
Some Cleveland Browns players also said they thought Dallas “ended our dream” and they, like many in the country at the time, blamed Dallas for JFK’s assassination and tried to take it out on the players on the field of play.
Lee Harvey Oswald was shot nearly two hours before the game started and was pronounced dead during the game.