CANTON, Ohio — The late John Facenda, a longtime narrator of NFL highlights whose voice became synonymous with the league, has won the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2021 Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award.
Facenda was a television news anchor in Philadelphia when NFL Films creator Ed Sabol heard his distinct voice describing some highlights in 1965. Sabol invited Facenda to read scripts, leading to a job Facenda held for 19 years until his death in 1984 at 71.
“For nearly 20 years, John Facenda’s resonant voice was, and even today still is, synonymous with the power, strength and character of the NFL,” said Hall of Fame president David Baker, who made the announcement Monday.
The Hall of Fame presents the Rozelle award annually in recognition of longtime exceptional contributions to radio and television in pro football.
Facenda narrated numerous films and weekly highlights packages, contributing to the growth in interest surrounding pro football. His speaking style earned him the nickname “The Voice of God” and contributed to the expansion of NFL Films.
Sabol, the 1991 Rozelle award winner, made the Hall of Fame in 2011. His son, Steve Sabol, will be part of the celebration for Facenda as a member of the centennial class of 2020.
Jack Facenda will accept the Rozelle award on his dad’s behalf Aug. 6 during enshrinement weekend.
Facenda’s career started in radio in Philadelphia before he debuted as an anchor in 1952. Facenda was one of the creators of the TV news format still used today, with separate segments for news, sports and weather.