Packers played with heavy hearts 2 days after JFK's assassination
Milwaukee-- Two days after the the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49er's took the field at Milwaukee County Stadium while much of the country mourned the sudden and tragic loss of a world leader.
\"It was a very traumatic day\" said NFL Hall of Famer Dave Robinson who was playing his rookie season with the Packers. \"Once the commissioner says you are going to play, you play...that's all there is to it.\"
Acting on advice from President Kennedy's press secretary, Pierre Salinger, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle decided to play on. It was a decision he would later call the biggest mistake of his 30-year career as commissioner. \"When Pete talked about it, he regretted his decision. And I'm sure he never changed his opinion on that.,\" said former Packers President Bob Harlan. Harlan said the games should have been postponed like they were after the 9-11 terror attacks. \"The country was in such turmoil after the Kennedy assassination. It just didn't make sense that the games should go on and be played.\"
The Packers and 49er's played with heavy hearts before an unusually quiet crowd of 47,000 fans at Milwaukee County Stadium. In the locker room, there was no fire and brimstone speech from Head Coach Vince Lombardi who was a friend of JFK. Robinson said \"he (Lombardi) said it was a great loss to the country, great personal loss. Some were taking it really hard, but you still have a job to perform. You are Green Bay Packers. You have to play.\"
The Packers defeated the 49er's 28 to 10. The game was not shown on TV because all three television networks carried coverage of the procession that carried Kennedy's body from the White House to the U.S. Capitol.