NFL owners pick Goodell

August 9th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: NFL owners pick Goodell

Tagliabue VP picked on fifth ballot

The wait was longer than Roger Goodell might have preferred, but the outcome was just as he had hoped.
By a 32-0 vote of the owners on the fifth ballot, Goodell yesterday was named to succeed Paul Tagliabue as commissioner of the National Football League.

“It's been a long process and I certainly want to thank the ownership for their confidence,” Goodell said from a hotel ballroom outside Chicago. “I committed over the last several months that I would do my best to help promote the National Football League . . . and I look forward to the challenge.” Goodell becomes the league's fourth commissioner since 1946, following Bert Bell, Pete Rozelle and Tagliabue, who is retiring after 17 years in office. There is no firm timetable for a transfer of power, but Goodell said he expects it to happen before the start of the regular season, which kicks off Sept. 7.
“It's a great challenge and, I must tell you, I'm very fortunate and I know that,” said Goodell, 47, who has a wife and two daughters. “I've spent my life following my passion, what I've always loved to do. From my standpoint, I can't think of a greater job and a greater league to be associated with, so I'm thrilled.”
The son of a U.S. senator, Goodell joined the NFL in 1982 as an intern in the league office. He spent a year as a public relations assistant with the Jets before returning to the league office, where he climbed the ranks to become Tagliabue's right hand as executive vice president and chief operating officer in 2001.
He was considered the front-runner since March, when Tagliabue announced his plans to retire. The league conducted a national search, but a positive for Goodell was that the league had not selected a commissioner from outside its ranks, dating to at least the 1940s. And with so many critical issues on the docket in the coming years – among them, the continuation of labor peace and the return to Los Angeles – the owners likely wanted someone who knows the lay of the land and is familiar with them and the issues.
“It became evident very early that there was a consensus among the owners that they wanted the position to stay internal,” Chargers President Dean Spanos said through the team's public relations office. “I think it was a wise decision, and we supported it. He knows most of the owners very well, his presence will ensure continuity in the league, and a lot of the owners thought that was critical.”
“The NFL is a complex business,” said Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder. “Finding the right person to keep it on course was critical, and we did it.”
Even so, the honeymoon could be brief for Goodell. In 2008, the owners and the players association have the right to independently opt out of the recently ratified collective bargaining agreement. The expectation is that the owners will take advantage of the out clause because, after reading the fine print on the new pact, some of them believe they made too many concessions to the players.
Another issue is Los Angeles. The league repeatedly has stated its desire to place a team in the market, which has been without an NFL franchise since the Rams and Raiders left after the 1994 season.
“I just got the job 10 minutes ago,” Goodell said when asked about Los Angeles. “I know that that's one of those things that the ownership wants to focus on, but we haven't given much thought to it in the last couple of days.”
At times, Goodell sounded a lot like the man he'll succeed, not to mention the one who preceded Tagliabue.
“The game of football is the most important thing, and we can't lose focus of that,” he said. “That's why the fans love the NFL, and we have to keep producing that and giving them that.
“The league is fortunate to have great success; it's also got a great foundation on which to build. But I think we've got a lot of challenges to face, and the good news is that I think we'll face them together, with 32 owners that are focused and prepared. I think the (selection) process allowed us to talk about a lot of those issues and what we need to do together to address them.”
As the league's executive vice president and chief operating officer, Goodell had responsibilities that consisted of supervising all league business operations, including media properties, marketing and sales, consumer products, international matters, stadium development, and special events and strategic planning.
He is said to have played a key role in the launching of NFL Network, the league-owned TV network, as well as in the negotiations for the new TV contracts, which are expected to bring in $10 billion over the next six years. In January 2004, The Sporting News ranked him 12th among its 100 most powerful people in sports.
But rather than focus on himself, Goodell took yesterday to praise the men who preceded him.
“I told (the owners) that we've had the two greatest sports commissioners in the history of all of sports, with Paul Tagliabue and Pete Rozelle,” he said. “I've been fortunate to work for both of them. I can't thank them enough for the opportunities that they have both given to me.”

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