Will war interrupt NFL?

January 17, 1991|By Knight-Ridder

The attack of Iraq by U.S. armed forces will force the National Football League to weigh a 71-year tradition of doggedly playing through the most cataclysmic events, including wars and presidential shootings.

"We don't know precisely what we are going to do," Greg Aiello, the league's director of communications, said before the attack. "It all depends on circumstances. We'll re-evaluate."

The NBA and NHL also may re-evaluate today after playing scheduled games last night.

The Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on a Sunday morning in 1941 didn't dent the NFL schedule that afternoon. Games went on the next Sunday as well, and also during the Korean and Vietnam wars.

The NFL played two days after the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy -- a decision former commissioner Pete Rozelle later called the biggest mistake of his 29-year tenure.

Even before Thursday's attack, the NFL raised the possibility of postponing or canceling the Jan. 27 Super Bowl in Tampa or Sunday's NFC and AFC championship games. The decision will chiefly rest on whether 75,000 fans can really be secure in a stadium and if it is right to play while soldiers are dying.

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