American Football Database
Paul Tagliabue
Tagliabue in August 2002
of the National Football League
In office
November 5, 1989 – September 1, 2006
Preceded by Pete Rozelle
Succeeded by Roger Goodell
Personal details
Born Paul John Tagliabue
(1940-11-24) November 24, 1940 (age 81)
Jersey City, New Jersey
Alma mater Georgetown University

Paul John Tagliabue (born November 24, 1940) is a former Commissioner of the National Football League. He took the position in 1989 and was succeeded by Roger Goodell, who was elected to the position on August 8, 2006. Tagliabue's retirement took effect on September 1, 2006. He had previously served as a lawyer for the NFL. Tagliabue is currently the chair of Georgetown University's board of directors.


Tagliabue was born in Jersey City, New Jersey,[1] the third of four sons of Charles and May Tagliabue. He is of Italian descent.[2] Tagliabue received an athletic scholarship to play basketball at Georgetown University and was captain of the 1961-1962 team. He graduated in 1962 as president of his senior class, a Rhodes Scholar finalist and a Dean's List graduate.

Tagliabue graduated from New York University School of Law in 1965. He has received honorary degrees from Colgate University and Northeastern University.[3]

From 1969 to 1989, Tagliabue practiced law with the elite Washington, D.C. firm Covington & Burling.[4]

National Football League

After serving as a lawyer for the NFL, Tagliabue was selected by NFL owners to succeed Pete Rozelle as Commissioner of the NFL in 1989.

Expansion of the league

During his tenure as commissioner, the NFL expanded from 28 teams to 32. New franchises were announced in 1993 to begin play in 1995 in Charlotte and Jacksonville. Subsequent moves by other teams resulted in a 31st team being added at Cleveland in 1999; this team, though technically an expansion team, inherited the name, colors, and history (including all team and individual records) from the Cleveland Browns, who had relocated to Baltimore in 1996 as the Baltimore Ravens. The 32nd franchise was the Houston Texans, added in 2002.

Team movements

In 1995, Los Angeles lost both its franchises, as the Rams relocated to St. Louis, and the Raiders returned to Oakland. In 1996, the Browns moved to Baltimore, under a new name, as indicated above. In 1997, the Houston Oilers relocated to Tennessee, for one year in Memphis and another year using Vanderbilt as their home field. (The team changed its name from the Oilers to the Titans upon moving to their permanent stadium in Nashville.)

Response to September 11 attacks

Two days after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Tagliabue announced that the games scheduled for the upcoming weekend were cancelled, citing the magnitude of the events and security concerns.[5]

It was the first time the league canceled an entire week's slate of games since the 1987 NFL strike.

A week later, it was announced that the postponed games would be added to the end of the regular season, pushing the Super Bowl into February for the first time.


Tagliabue has been praised for these politically-related actions taken as NFL commissioner:

  • He took a stand against the State of Arizona for refusing to establish a state holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr., like other states had done. In 1993, the Super Bowl was to be held for the first time in Arizona, but after an election, Arizona rejected establishment of a Martin Luther King state holiday. Subsequently, Tagliabue moved the Super Bowl to Pasadena.[6]
  • Forcefully and successfully promoting the return of the Saints to New Orleans after the disruption of their 2005 season in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Tagliabue is credited with convincing Saints owner Tom Benson to abandon any effort to move the team to San Antonio and with making the Saints' return to Louisiana a league priority.[7]

Post-NFL career

Tagliabue returned to Covington & Burling where he serves as senior of counsel.[8]

In 2008, Tagliabue was selected to serve a three year term as chairman of Georgetown University's board of directors. [9]

Tagliabue has also been honored for his work with gay rights group PFLAG. [10]

In 2012, Tagliabue was appointed by current NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to hear the appeals of the players suspended in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal.[11]


1992 Eagle Award from the United States Sports Academy. The Eagle Award is the Academy's highest international honor and was awarded to Tagliabue for his significant contributions to international sport.[12]

Notes and references

  1. Eskenazi, Gerald (January 28, 1990). "Super Bowl XXIV; Tagliabue Sweeps Into Action". The New York Times. Retrieved October 13, 2009.
  3. Patriot's website profile
  4. "Covington & Burling LLP | Biographies | Paul Tagliabue". Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  5. Mason, Andrew (2001-09-13). "NFL presses on after tragedy". Archived from the original on 2001-09-15.
  6. Baum, Bob (January 25, 2008). "MLK flap shaded first Arizona Super Bowl". South Coast Today. Associated Press.
  7. Anderson, Dave (February 14, 2010). "For Saving Saints, Tagliabue Deserves a Place in the Hall". New York Times: p. SP2.
  8. "Covington & Burling LLP | Biographies | Paul Tagliabue". Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  9. "Georgetown University: Paul Tagliabue Named Chair of Board of Directors". 2008-12-11. Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  10. "Paul Tagliabue Honored for Work with Gay Group". Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  11. 2012-9-30-16-00-00 (2012-09-30). "Goodell appoints Tagliabue to hear player appeals - Yahoo! Sports". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  12. "FISU homepage". Retrieved 2012-10-19.

External links

This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Paul Tagliabue.
The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with American Football Database, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.