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Paul Tagliabue retiring


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ESPN .com reports commiser PAUL T has quit


NEW YORK -- Paul Tagliabue is retiring as NFL commissioner in July after more than 16 years on the job.

The 65-year-old commissioner has led the league since 1989, when he succeeded Pete Rozelle, and had recently signed a two-year contract extension to complete the television and labor deals.

He finally got that done 12 days ago, finishing the most arduous labor negotiations since the league and union agreed on a free agency-salary cap deal in 1992.

"I believe that now is a positive time to make the transition to a new commissioner," Tagliabue said in a statement.

"We have a collective bargaining extension in place, long-term television contracts, and have undertaken many other strong elements in league and club operations," Tagliabue said. "I am honored to have been commissioner since late 1989 and to have been heavily involved with the league, its owners, clubs, coaches, players, fans and media since 1969."

ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported on March 9 that Tagliabue was expected to exercise a clause in his contract with league owners in which he becomes a "senior executive" consultant with a significant compensation package. Tagliabue and the NFL did not comment at the time.

Tagliabue will be available to serve in a senior executive/advisory role through May 31, 2008 once a new commissioner is selected.

Roger Goodell, the NFL's chief operating officer, and Atlanta general manager Rich McKay are the two leading candidates to succeed Tagliabue. Baltimore Ravens president Dick Cass is considered a dark horse.

Goodell has worked side by side with Tagliabue on numerous issues, ranging from franchise stability, new stadium construction, TV contract negotiations and the most recent collective bargaining agreement, in which he was an active participant.

Tagliabue has said he wants to avoid the kind of seven-month deadlock that occurred between him and the late Jim Finks after Rozelle stepped down in March 1989.

Tagliabue called Pittsburgh's Dan Rooney, the NFL's senior owner, early Monday to tell him of the decision.

"We've got the best labor deal in sports. We've got the best league. He's been our leader. The whole way he's done this has been wonderful," Rooney told The Associated Press.

The announcement was made officially in an e-mail to the other owners at noon ET.

Tagliabue will stay on with the NFL as a senior executive and a consultant through 2008, part of the contract extension he signed last July.

Tagliabue's term will be remembered most for labor peace following strikes in 1982 and 1987. His close relationship with Gene Upshaw, the union's executive director, finally led to a long-term agreement after five years without a contract.

But the bargaining was hard this time, with three straight deadline extensions needed. The agreement avoided the prospect of entering free agency this year with the possibility of an uncapped year in 2007.

It came at the expense of revenue sharing among the owners, an issue that had divided high-revenue and small-revenue teams and contributed to the deadlock. He did it with what has been considered his greatest skill as commissioner, patching together a coalition of nine teams with differing viewpoints to reach a compromise considered satisfactory by all but two teams.

He also oversaw a massive stadium building program. More than two-thirds of the NFL's 32 teams are either playing in or building stadiums that didn't exist when he took over as commissioner in 1989.

Before becoming commissioner, Tagliabue was a league lawyer who spent much of that time as the NFL's representative and unofficial lobbyist in Washington.

"He has been a tremendous asset to our league and the direction we have taken," said New Orleans owner Tom Benson.

"We have experienced very positive growth in the area of revenue sharing and broadcast contracts, we have secured long-term labor peace and have also even encountered some of the worst of times following 9/11, but through it all Paul has been a leader, a friend and a voice that many others within our league and other leagues have followed."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Yeah Tags deserves a tribute. He did a lot of great things for what is today's NFL. And just for mere starters. Only David Stern, NBA commissioner, who took the TV broadcasts from being tape delayed or starting at 11pm to primetime, comes anywhere close to the marketing impact Tags has had on the NFL. Tags is the cornerstone, along with Pete Rozelle, of why the NFL remains the World-Wide dominant sport to ever be played. He would often and to this day describe the NFL as contrived adversity. So if I had a question to ask him that's the one I would ask. Just what did he mean by that?

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He may have been a fan, but in an effort to appear objective he was often very punative. Remember the game Tre Johnson was suspended for "almost" hitting a referee?

That's just speculation on your part, though, that he was tougher on the Washington Redskins just to show he wasn't being bias.

If it was true, though, then we shouldn't want another Redskin fan to be the next Commish. :)

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Tagliabue is a Georgetown University Alum who is actually the 20th leading rebounder in G'Town History.

Reb GM Avg.

Patrick Ewing (1981-85) 1,316 143 9.2

2.Merlin Wilson (1972-76) 1,230 108 11.4

3.Alonzo Mourning (1988-92) 1,032 120 8.6

4.Othella Harrington (1992-96) 983 132 7.4

5.Mike Sweetney (2000-03 ) 887 96 9.2

6.Reggie Williams (1983-87) 886 138 6.4

7.Dikembe Mutombo (1988-91) 823 96 8.6

8.Mike Laughna (1969-72) 777 77 10.1

9.Bill Martin (1981-85) 740 142 5.2

10.Ed Hopkins (1974-78) 725 111 6.5

11.Ruben Boumtje Boumtje (1997-01) 710 101 7.0

12.Craig Shelton (1976-80) 691 93 7.4

13.Joe Missett (1954-57) 688 65 10.6

14.Robert Churchwell (1990-94) 668 128 5.2

15.Bill Lynn (1972-76) 662 105 6.3

16.Charlie Adrion (1967-70) 655 66 9.9

17.Jerome Williams (1994-96) 634 68 9.3

18.Steve Sullivan (1964-67) 606 65 9.3

19.Al Dutch (1975-78;79-80) 602 117 5.2

20.Paul Tagliabue (1959-62) 584 65 9.0

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A standing O for the GOAT Commish

:applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause:

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I think that Tagliabue inheirited a really good situation - I don't know of really anything he did that was particularly innovative.

On the other hand, he was able to maintain a really good working relationship with the players' union and kept football on course while the other sports buried themselves with labor/ownership strife, competitive balance issues, and (baseball) rampant steroid use.

I think Bud Selig has been far more creative and innovative with the marketing of his sport (see: the wild card, interleague play, and the WBC), but ultimately Selig will be remembered negatively and Tagliabue remembered positively because Tags kept the peace and Selig didn't, and that's not entirely unfair (and also because Selig let Steinbrenner and the MLBPA bully him around for pretty much the entirety of his reign).

If I were to rate the four commissioners, I would go:

1. David Stern - easily the best comissioner the NBA has ever had.

2. Paul Tagliabue - hard to argue putting him here given football's popularity.

3. Bud Selig - for every positive, there is a negative.

4. The idiot in charge of the NHL.

One thing about Tags though - he got absolutely smoked in the last labor negotiations. He left the issue on the backburner way too long and then Upshaw made out like a bandit after trouncing him in an ultra-high stakes game of chicken. That's probably why he's retiring.

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