Rozelle Denies Putting Pressure on CBS

Commissioner Pete Rozelle of the National Football League confirmed that he had made inquiries of a CBS executive about the formation of a rival football league in the 1970s but denied applying pressure on the network with respect to coverage of the new teams.

Rozelle, testifying for a second day in U.S. District Court in Manhattan as the United States Football League's first witness in its $1.32-billion antitrust suit against the NFL, said he had called Robert Wood--then president of CBS--to ask about an organizational meeting of the World Football League, which competed in 1974 and part of 1975 before disbanding.

It is the USFL's contention in its suit charging the NFL with monopolizing the sport that Rozelle and the NFL exerted pressure on the national television networks to discourage them from televising WFL games in the 1970s and USFL games since that league's inception in 1983.

Rozelle said he called Wood because he was "surprised and curious" after learning that a CBS sports executive had attended the WFL's meeting.

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