Did You Know Joe Foss Had a Big Impact on the Game of Football?
South Dakotans are highly familiar with the name Joe Foss.
Most people immediately associate Foss with the Sioux Falls Regional Airport, otherwise known as Joe Foss Field.
Foss was a very accomplished aviator during his lifetime. A United States Marine Corp major, and a highly decorated Marine fighter-ace during World War II, he also received the Medal of Honor for his role in the air combat campaign during the Guadalcanal Campaign in the early 1940s and was later named an Air National Guard brigadier general.
His impact on the state of South Dakota spanned far greater than just his storied military career. The more I began to delve into Foss' background on SDPB.org, the more he reminded me of a combination of Forrest Gump meets Ryan Seacrest. I mean this guy has literally done a little bit of everything!
It's crazy, check this out, Foss was elected the youngest governor in the history of South Dakota in 1955. He was only 39 years old at the time he became the 20th Governor of the Rushmore state and served as governor until 1959.
While governor, he appeared on the television game show "Two for the Money" with another famous South Dakotan, Tom Brokaw, who was just a high school student at the time. Foss was no stranger to TV game shows, before that, he made an appearance on the show "What's My Line" in May of 1955.
If you're a lover of the game of football, you will certainly appreciate the impact Foss had on the game. He was named the very first commissioner of the newly created American Football League in 1959. During his time as commish, he helped to expand the American Football League, while making several lucrative television deals with both ABC and NBC.
Foss remained the commissioner of the AFL until April of 1966. He resigned just a couple of months before the league's historic merger with the NFL which ultimately led to the creation of the world's premier sporting event the Super Bowl.
While serving as the commissioner of the AFL, he also hosted The American Sportsman on ABC from 1964 to 1967. He then moved on to host his very own syndicated TV series called "The Outdoorsman" from 1967 to 1974.
Later in life, Foss even served as the two-term president of the National Rifle Association beginning in 1988. He was also very close with another high-profile president of the NRA, actor and political activist Charlton Heston.
Throughout his life, Foss was also recognized as a very accomplished orator, author, business executive, and philanthropist being heavily involved in charitable organizations like Easter Seals, and the National Society of Crippled Children and Adults.
This larger-than-life figure passed away at the age of 87 on New Year's Day in 2003 after suffering a stroke three months prior in October 2002.
Source: South Dakota Public Broadcasting
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