John Facenda posthumously honored with Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Award

Canton Cityscapes And City Views
Getty Images

The voice of NFL Films — sometimes called the Voice of God — is being honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

John Facenda, who helped grow the game of football by narrating so much great NFL Films footage before he died in 1984, is the recipient of the 2021 Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award. The award, which goes each year to a recipient with a long record of contributing to the sport through radio or television, usually goes to someone who’s still living. But Facenda may have the voice that is most associated with the sport of football, and so he is being recognized many years after he became the voice of NFL Films.

“For nearly 20 years, John Facenda’s resonant voice was, and even today still is, synonymous with the power, strength and character of the NFL,” Hall of Fame President David Baker said in a statement. “His narration of the league’s history, the legacies of those who played and coached in it and the stories of its greatest moments and memories helped generations of fans fall in love with the game and make it America’s passion.”

Facenda spent many years as a local sportscaster in Philadelphia when Ed Sabol approached him about working at NFL Films in 1965. Facenda kept working for NFL Films until his death at age 71.

“It’s fitting in a year that Steve Sabol joins his father, Ed, in the Hall of Fame that John Facenda’s decades of professionalism and excellence at the highest level will be recognized as the recipient of the Pete Rozelle Award for 2021,” Baker said.

The award will be presented to Facenda’s son, Jack Facenda, during the Hall of Fame’s enshrinement weekend.

20 responses to “John Facenda posthumously honored with Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Award

  1. As a kid before there was cable, streaming, or Sports Center, the only way to see highlights of games not shown live in your area was Facenda’s show and the brief clips at halftime on MNF. In my area Facenda was on around midday on Saturday and it was great. The highlights, the film quality, and the music were perfect. Someone can correct me but one piece of music sounded like “What Do You Say to a Drunken Sailor.”

  2. This is awesome news. Personally, those classic NFL Films videos really added to my love of football. Whether it was Football Follies, or The Greatest Players / Catches / Runs, etc., all of them were so great. The music was a big part of it, and of course Facenda’s voice overs were legendary.

  3. Hear his voice once, you never forgot it. His voice was that indelible. A fine recognition.

  4. I’m actually quite surprised that Facenda was never recognized by the Hall of Fame before this. His was the iconic voice of the NFL for several generations.

  5. I grew up with John [The Voice of God] Facenda and NFL Films. Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier, Curt Gowdy and Al DeRogatis, Keith Jackson/Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell and Don Meredith. The voices of my youth. Many a meal were eaten in our household on TV trays in front of our 25″ Zenith during the fall. It’s nice to take a trip down Memory Lane once in a while.

  6. Good. I would support him eventually going into the Hall as a contributor, but the Rozelle award has been a nice way to honor national and local media people who are a signficant part of the football experience. Even if they did give it to Joe Buck for some reason.

  7. See him as a TV announcer in Paul Wendkos’ riveting 1957 noir “The Burglar” starring Dan Duryea and Jayne Mansfield.

  8. I agree with everyone else who can’t believe he isn’t already in the HOF. What a voice! Perfect for the times and the films he was narrating (also, the music!). I honestly think NFL Films was a big part of the reason why football was able to surpass baseball in popularity, and he was such a big part of NFL Films back then!

  9. Well deserved for “The Voice of God”. In my opinion, no one has ever come close to him.

  10. The Autumn Wind is a pirate
    Blustering in from sea,
    With a rollicking song, he sweeps along,
    Swaggering boisterously.
    His face is weather beaten.
    He wears a hooded sash,
    With a silver hat about his head,
    And a bristling black mustache.

    He growls as he storms the country,
    A villain big and bold.
    And the trees all shake and quiver and quake,
    As he robs them of their gold.

    The Autumn Wind is a raider,
    Pillaging just for fun.
    He’ll knock you ’round and upside down,
    And laugh when he’s conquered and won.

  11. John Facenda was more than just the iconic voice of NFL Films. He anchored top-rated newscasts in Philadelphia in the 1950s-70s, overlapping with his work for NFL Films. He also narrated the amazing Christmas Light Show in the Great Hall (7 stories high) at John Wanamaker’s flagship store in downtown Philadelphia, a staple of each holiday season. What a voice. Well-deserving of this honor and many others.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.