Dan Rather was not invited back to his former network, CBS for the JFK assassination commemoration next week, but ESPN and NBC did.
The former anchorman, who now runs his own network, will host a special for the 50th anniversary of the President’s assassination on the sports network.
The special Rozelle’s Decision-To-Play will be one of the pieces the network has planned to mark the anniversary and will be narrated by Dan Rather, ESPN said on a statement Friday.
It is based on the story of commissioner Pete Rozelle, then only 37-years-old and in his fourth season as head of the NFL, who decided to go ahead and continue with that weekend games as scheduled.
The Dallas Cowboys were practicing only blocks away from where JFK was gunned down on Friday, November 22, 1963 and the decision to carry on with football games on Sunday is one Rozelle called the greatest mistake of his career, according to ESPN.
Dan Rather got his big break the day of the assassination, working as a young reporter he had helped coordinate the television coverage of Kennedy’s visit to Dallas.
Rather took the chance of being the first reporter to confirm the death of the President, after overhearing a conversation between Parkland Hospital personnel, where JFK was taken to after being shot.
He related the information to headquarters and CBS went with it in the form of the memorable news bulletin from a choked up Walter Cronkite.
Rather, who is clearly upset that CBS is not including him in the events marking the tragic day, has been talking about his former place of employment to anyone who will listen.
On Thursday he voiced his displeasure, in no uncertain terms, to columnist Gail Shister of TV Newser saying:
“They were trying to airbrush me out of their history, like the Kremlin. I had hoped that whatever animus was there, as time goes by, would fade, and maybe they would change their minds. What’s next – I’m airbrushed out of Watergate coverage? Vietnam? Tiananmen Square? 9/11? Where does this lead?”
Dan Rather will also participate on the November 22 special during the TODAY Show alongside former rival Tom Brokaw.
According to ESPN’s recollections some agreed with Rozzelle’s decision to play that weekend and some did not.
Leroy Jordan, a former Dallas Cowboy summed up his feelings like this:
“I was hoping it would be played so our team could help heal the city of Dallas. I just felt like we needed to play the game.”
The special Rozelle’s Decision-to-Play to commemorate the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination will air this Sunday at 8 pm on ESPN2 and 9 am on ESPNEWS. It will be narrated by Dan Rather.