In a December 19, 1972, telephone call, President Richard M. Nixon told Attorney General Richard G. Kleindienst to relay this message to NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle just days before a Washington Redskins playoff game. Incredibly, the next day Rozelle rebuffed the attorney general.
“If you make the move (to lift the TV blackout), for these playoff games, we will block any—any—legislation to stop anything else. I will fight it personally and veto any—any—legislation. You can tell him that I will veto it. And we’ll sustain the veto. … Go all out on it and tell him he’s got the president’s personal commitment. I’m for pro football all the way, and I think it’s not in pro football’s interest to allow this to build up because before you know it, they’ll have the damn Congress go all the way. We don’t want Congress to go all the way.
…[the NFL] should have absolute protection on all regular-season games [and that] if we can get the playoff games, believe me, it would be the greatest achievement we’ve ever done.
…But let me say, that I want us to get some publicity out of this. I just don’t want to do this to accomplish it. …Now see if you can work that out and tell him this would be the greatest move he could ever make. He’d be a hero to the nation.”
—President Richard Nixon