Carroll Rosenbloom, owner of the Los Angeles Rams, drowned yesterday while swimming off Golden Beach, a suburb of Miami Beach. He was 72.
He maintained a posture of robustness ever since he played halfback for the University of Pennsylvania, despite having double-bypass heart surgery a few years ago, and he lost his life battling high waves and a strong undertown about 150 yards from shore, according to police.
Mr. Rosenbloom was vacationing with his wife, the former Georgia Hayes. Their home is in Bel Air, Calif.
Police Chief William Henrikson of Golden Beach and policeman Ronald Nasca stripped and swam out to Mr. Rosenbloom in a attempt to rescue him.
Nasca said afterward, "The current was quite strong out there and the waves were high. It took us about 10 minutes to tow him back to shore. The rescue squad was waiting."
He said the squad was unable to restore Mr. Rosenbloom's heartbeat.
United Press International reported that Mr. Rosenbloom apparently was swimming alone when a neighbor, Rose Lee Scott, saw him struggling and summoned police. A man passing by on the beach reportedly seized a driftwood board and attempted to paddle toward Mr. Rosenbloom, but was driven back by the waves.
Chief Henrikson said police were called about 2 p.m. "When we got to the beach, we saw two men in a heavey surf about 150 yards out. One man was trying to support the other," The Associated Press quoted Henrikson as saying.
"We took off our clothes and went into the water, but by the time we got there, the other man was near exhaustion. There was no apparent sign of life when we got to him (Mr. Rosenbloom). In my opinion, he was dead before we got to him.
"There was a very, very strong undertow. The waves were extremely rough. We were dragged almost 150 yards north along the beach during the rescue try."
Henrikson said when he swam to Rosenbloom, he passed the would-be rescuer, Raymond Tanguay of Montreal, in the water and "I asked him if the other man was still alive.
"But he answered in French and I didn't understand him," explained Hendrikson. "When I came back to the beach I saw Tanguay under a blanket on the sand."
"That poor man, that poor man," Tanguay moaned after he returned to his motel room.
Tanguay, who speaks no English, said through his wife susan, "I wanted to save him. I did everything I could. But it was not enough."
Tanguay, a middle-aged man who said he and his wife are on the last few days of a two-week vacation here, said "The man's face was in the water for five minutes before I got to him."
He said he was standing on the beach when he heard Rosenbloom yell, "Help! Help!"
"But the water was too hard for me. I didn't catch him at a good time. The water was very rough, too much rough.
"I took out a piece of wood. Three times I put the man on the wood, but every time the big rough wave take the man again into the water."
Rosenbloom, one of nine children, was born March 5, 1907. He amassed a fortune manufacturing work clothes, including fatigue uniforms for the military in World War II, and later became one of the most successful club owners in the National Football League, with the Baltimore Colts and then the Rams.
He got his start in business with help of his father after attending the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
"I was associated with my father for 30 days," he once said, "then I went down to Roanoke, Va., and started a little business."
He accumulated 11 companies and sold them when he went to Los Angeles and bought the then-largest single interest in Warner Bros., now Warner Communications.
Mr. Rosenbloom had a talent for sensing potential in assistants to be head coaches in football and three of them-Don Shula, Don McCafferty and Weeb Ewbank-won an aggregate of four Super Bowls. Shula won two at Miami after a controversial parting from the Baltimore Colts.
Mr. Rosenbloom revived a dissolved Colt Franchise in 1953, putting up $13,000. When he traded the franchise in 1972 for the Rams, the Los Angeles club was worth an estimated $20 million.
Under quarterback Johnny Unitas, who was signed as a free agent, the Colts had 16 straight winning seasons, including three NFL championships and a Super Bowl victory under the late McCafferty after the NFL merger in which Baltimore became part of the American Football Conference.
After trading franchises with Bob Irsay, who became the Colts' ownerr, Mr. Rosenbloom continued as a winning owner at Los Angeles. A Super Bowl appearance eluded him there, denying him the distinction of winning the title in both conferences.
Frequently a source of controversy, he caused a stir in 1978 when he announced he was moving the Rams to Anaheim, Calif., for the 1980 session.
Previously he startled the league by hiring George Allen last February, then firing Allen as coach after two exhibition losses.
In 1963, an investigation cleared him of betting on games, but the incident strained his relations with Commissioner Pete Rozelle.
In 1975, he was fined $5,000 for criticizing game officials and the next year he accused Rozelle's office of deliberately scheduling a Ram game at the start of Yom Kippur, a Jewish holy day.
Mr. Rosenbloom was embarrassed when the Colts were upset in the third Super Bowl by the New York Jets, 17-point underdogs. His anger at Coach Shula was aggravated the nest year, when the Miami Dolphins hired Shula. Mr. Rosenbloom charged Dolphin owner Joe Robbie with "tampering" and was upheld by the commissioner, who awarded the Colts a No. 1 draft choice.
When informed of Mr. Rosenbloom's death, Rozelle issued the following statement:
"For 26 years in Baltimore, then in Los Angeles, Carroll Rosenbloom played a major role in the growth and success of the National Football League, both through the performance of the teams he produced and through his active participation in the league's decision-making processess."
Shula said, "He certainly was instrumental in my career. He gave me an opportunity to become coach at age 33. Although we had our differences later on, when I left Baltimore to come to Miami, they were patched up. I can now reflect on the good things, and there were many."
"He gave me an opportunity to be an NFL coach," added Buffalo Coach Chuck Knox, fired by Rosenbloom as the Ram coach after the 1977 seasons, "and for that I will only be grateful."
Mr. Rosenbloom's son, Steve, is expected to take over control of the Rams. He was named president of the Colts in 1971 at the age of 26, a position he also held with the Rams.
Mr. Rosenbloom is survived by his wife, two other sons, Daniel and Carroll, and a daughter Suzanne Irwin. CAPTION: Picture, Carroll Rosenbloom was swimming alone.