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AFL Commissioner Challenges NFL to “World Series” Game

Dec. 9, 1963 - Commissioner Joe Foss of the American Football League today formally challenged the rival National Football League to play a “World Series” in 1964, but the proposal was immediately rejected by commissioner Pete Rozelle of the NFL. Foss’s challenge was made in the form of a “Dear Pete” letter to Rozelle. “I feel strongly that the time has arrived for the inauguration of such an annual game,” Foss wrote. “Any argument as to which team would win the initial AFL-NFL game is of secondary importance. The overriding fact is that the establishment of a World Series of professional football is necessary to the continued progress of our game if we’re to be true sportsmen and not merely businessmen in sports. Pro football now has attained the status where many regard it as our national sport. What could be more fitting than for us to match baseball in having an annual classic between the two leagues?” After the letter was read to Rozelle over the telephone by newsmen, Rozelle issued this statement addressed to Foss: “I understand that you intend to write me for the purpose of suggesting a championship playoff between the NFL and the AFL in 1964. As I have said on a number of occasions recently when queried by news media concerning similar public requests made by you, we have no plans for such a game.” Rozelle would not comment further. In his letter to Rozelle, Foss stressed that 1964 would be the AFL’s fifth year of operation, “certainly a sufficient period for our teams to have achieved a high talent and maturity level.” To emphasize his point, Foss cited the example of the Cleveland Browns, who in the fifth year of their existence, moved from the defunct All American Conference into the NFL and immediately won the championship of the established league. “The Browns, as you’ll recall,” Foss wrote, “quickly proved that a representative of the so-called ‘neophyte league’ of that era was more than capable of holding its own.” The Browns won six straight Eastern Division NFL championships.


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