Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue (1989-2006) was nominated as a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2017 class by the contributor's committee on August 16th. He will be voted by the selection committee on Saturday, February 4th, 2017 for possible election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Tagliabue became the 7th chief executive of the NFL on October 26, 1989 when he was selected on the 12th ballot by club owners to succeed then-Commissioner Pete Rozelle.
He brought leadership credibility to the NFL league office after the unstable decade of the 1980s. He strengthened the NFL Commissioner’s office by consolidating authority over labor and league business units into his domain.
Tagliabue brought labor peace to pro football thru a landmark 1993 collective bargaining agreement with the players union. The new CBA for the first time established a salary cap-free agency mechanism which remains in effect to this day. The NFL was the only league not to experience a labor stoppage during his 17 years in office.
Tagliabue also led change in the on-field culture of the league with rules changes to enhance player safety. The NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy was established in 1997 for all NFL employees and was a first in sports.
The NFL in 1990 became the first league with year-round random steroid testing. Tagliabue was the first commissioner to take the initiative to address concussions in sports by appointing a panel of experts to a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee. He also arranged for the NFL to contribute millions of dollars to concussion research studies.
The League during Tagliabue’s administration expanded from 28 to 32 teams which is the most in professional sports. He helped establish the first league stadium funding program which resulted in the construction or major restoration of more than 20 stadiums around the NFL.
The NFL under Tagliabue greatly expanded diversity in League hiring practices thru the Rooney Rule and his leadership was hailed around the country when he removed the playing of a Super Bowl from the state of Arizona over the Martin Luther King, Jr holiday issue.
The NFL Network was launched by Tagliabue and the clubs in 2003. They also helped expand the satellite and cable television industries by creating a Sunday Ticket package of games via satellite and by creating a full season of Sunday night games on cable TV.
With the goal of creating new NFL fans, the NFL established NFL International Week in 1990 which for the first time showcased preseason games in four markets outside the USA. In 1994, the NFL announced the formation of a joint venture with Fox to create a six-team World League to begin play in Europe the following spring.
Tagliabue as Commissioner also made the development and protection of youth football a priority. The NFL and NFLPA in 2002 endowed USA Football which has become the national governing body for amateur football in this country.
League-wide revenues during Tagliabue’s 17 years as Commissioner increased from $900 million to $6.5 billion.
Tagliabue served as the League’s chief outside legal counsel for more than a decade before he became Commissioner. He began working for Covington & Burling law firm in 1969 after a stint in the US Department of Defense.
He earned his undergraduate degree at Georgetown University and his law degree from NYU in New York.
Back to news