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This Day in Bills History, Nov. 24: A tragic day off

Nov. 24, 1963 – Plenty of Americans remember what they were doing on Nov. 22, 1963, the day President Kennedy was assassinated. It led to an odd situation two days later.

In fact, a game that was never played turned out to be memorable.

The American Football League postponed its week's games, so the Bills and Patriots did not play on the 24th as scheduled. However, the rival National Football League opted to play its games that Sunday. The contests weren't televised, as coverage of the news story took precedence.

NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle said at the time, "It has been traditional in sports for athletes to perform in times of great personal tragedy. Football was Mr. Kennedy's game. He thrived on competition."

Rozelle later said that playing the games was his single biggest regret about his tenure. The NFL learned a lesson from the weekend. It canceled games the week after Sept. 11, 2001.

Budd Bailey is a retired sports reporter and editor at The Buffalo News. He is also the author of "Today in Buffalo Sports History." Learn more about the book here.

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