With the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy looming, Bob Costas takes a unique look at the events through the eyes of the NFL team that played in the city where Kennedy was killed.
Debuting at 11:00 p.m. ET tonight on NBCSN, No Day For Games: The Cowboys and JFK examines the impact of the tragedy and its aftermath on the NFL team from Dallas that played the Browns in Cleveland only two days after Kennedy died.
Tight end Pettis Norman explained that, as the Cowboys worked in Dallas on the day Kennedy visited, the players openly wondered whether local animosity toward the President would lead to a horrible outcome.
“We were on the practice field and the question became, ‘What if some nut were to shoot the President?’” Norman told Costas.
After that seemingly far-fetched suggestion came to fruition, Norman was surprised the games went forward.
“I thought the games would be called off, and was shocked and was a little angry, really, when I found the game was going to be played,” Norman said.
But the Cowboys went to Cleveland, carrying the name of the city that had become notorious overnight. And members of the Browns knew it.
“This city, Dallas, killed our President,” former Browns offensive lineman John Wooten told Costas. “That was the feeling that we had. We wanted to get after Dallas.”
Ideally, the players simply didn’t want to play.
“I talked to a couple of guys on the other team after the ballgame was over and they said, ‘We should have just walked off. We should not have played, period. What could they have done to us?’” former Cowboys defensive back Jerry Overton said.
“I think it was the worst event I’ve ever been in,” Hall of Fame defensive tackle Bob Lilly told Costas. “We could have quit our season then and it would have been fine with me.”
The show concludes with an interview of Hall of Fame Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach, who was still at the Naval Academy when Kennedy was killed, and who was poised to be on the cover of LIFE magazine that week before the Kennedy assassination altered those plans.
Tune in to NBCSN at 11:00 p.m. ET for this far different perspective on one of the most important American events of the 20th Century.