"I never thought of it quite that way before, but yes." Rozelle is now 48, but age has been kind to him. He has filled out some to 185 (at 6'2") and, although he certainly could not be called a handsome man, his face has rounded out and he no longer has a long, homely, austere visage. He is the only one of the four commissioners to talk really well, to know how to use inflection, and he also has much the best taste and frame for clothes: snappy blazer, striped shirt, bright tie with kidney designs, shoes by Gucci, matching belt for his tan doubleknit slacks.
His early professional success was marred by an unhappy marriage, now concluded, and he remarried last December (to Jack Kent Cooke's former daughter-in-law), a union that has taken him from the city to a Westchester County, suburb and brought four children into an apartment life he used to share with his one teen-age daughter.
He lights another of the four dozen Vantage cigarettes he smokes a day, and says, "The main frustrations are caused by internal problems. What gets publicized is the litigation, Congressional debate, a World Football League, when in fact most of your real problems are among the league clubs. That's why I feel so strongly about each of our teams having a 51% owner. I came from a situation with the Rams that didn't have that, and that's what's given me so much grief here. You may not get the greatest owner in the world, but if you have just one man to deal with you eliminate a lot of problems for yourself.
"The main job with owners is counseling them, educating them. We get 85 daily papers in this office plus magazines. We've got kids from high school as clippers and we're going into microfilm. This was important in getting the owners to accept this season's rules changes. We could show them clips revealing a general agitation for change.
"You just can't control things. I wouldn't want to see Judge Landis discredited, but that was a period of reform and he was able to act arbitrarily. Bowie would have no shot at that kind of behavior. None of us would. Litigation has become a way of life for me. It's an unpleasant way of life, but I'm inured to it now. We've had up to 20 antitrust suits thrown at us at one time; at present we're down to 12 or 13. We get 'em all the time. I was very uptight when the AFL sued us for $10 million in 1962. It seemed like such a large amount of money. Now I just ask my attorneys when I have to give my next deposition.
"Being a lawyer is not requisite for this job. The first thing is to have a feel for sports, because sports is a unique business. The worst thing is the loss of privacy, but you just can't appreciate that until you're in a position where you're losing it. My daughter was funny about that. She was a clever little kid and she used to tease me about Joe Foss. She'd say, 'I don't think Joe Foss would have said that. I don't think Joe Foss would do that to me, Daddy.'
"Now the kids are after me to stop smoking. I may make another try after the player negotiations. But Carrie, my wife, says that I'll always have something to try it after. The last time I went three weeks, but I broke down on a cross-country flight when I was sitting alone having a drink. That's when you miss a cigarette the most, with a drink. I drink Scotch.
"I like variety in foods. Big steaks frighten me. For lunch, for instance, I like creamed chipped beef on toast. Really. I read the papers and newsmagazines, but my time to read is limited. I try to get to a few bestsellers. I don't see that many movies or much TV either. I do see an occasional game, baseball or something, and I've always liked track and field.
"I split my vacation, a week in the winter, then maybe one before the training camps. I love to sneak off to the Bahamas for some fishing—bonefish, marlin. I'm playing tennis again, too. I was on the team in high school and tried to take it up again, but that was just before the merger and I had to give up. Implementing that merger was the most difficult thing I've had to do. But I started up with tennis again recently and I met my wife playing it out on the Coast.
"Sometimes I do sleep in the nude but, you know, with all these new kids around the house I'm usually at least in my bottoms. Mostly in my pajama bottoms, I would say."