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Paul Tagliabue

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Paul Tagliabue
Tagliabue in August 2002
5th Commissioner of the NFL
In office
November 5, 1989 – September 1, 2006
Preceded byPete Rozelle
Succeeded byRoger Goodell
Personal details
Paul John Tagliabue

(1940-11-24) November 24, 1940 (age 83)
Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.
SpouseChandler Minter (m. 1965)
  • John D. Rockefeller V.
  • (son-in-law)
  • Andrew
  • Emily
  • Charles Tagliabue
  • Mary Tagliabue
Residence(s)Chevy Chase, Maryland, U.S.
Alma materGeorgetown University
New York University School of Law

American football career

Paul John Tagliabue (/ˈtæɡliəb/; born November 24, 1940) is an American lawyer who was the commissioner of the National Football League (NFL). He took the position in 1989 and served until September 1, 2006.[1] He had previously served as a lawyer for the NFL.[2] Tagliabue also served as Chairman of Board of Directors of Georgetown University from 2009 to 2015.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Tagliabue was born in Jersey City, New Jersey,[4] the third of four sons of Charles and May Tagliabue. He is of Italian descent.[5] Raised in The Heights neighborhood of Jersey City, he attended St. Michael's High School in Union City, New Jersey, where he starred in basketball.[6] Tagliabue received an athletic scholarship to play basketball at Georgetown University and was captain of the 1961–62 team. He graduated in 1962 as president of his senior class,[7] a Rhodes Scholar finalist and a Dean's List graduate.[8] In a congressional hearing in 1992, Tagliabue later revealed he had inadvertently played in a game where an opposing team would fix the outcome of the game in favor of Georgetown, which would be one factor in mind for him taking a staunch stance against gambling later on in his life.[9] Tagliabue graduated from New York University School of Law in 1965. He has received honorary degrees from Colgate University and Northeastern University.[10]

Professional career[edit]

From 1969 to 1989, Tagliabue practiced law with the Washington, D.C. firm Covington & Burling.[11]

National Football League[edit]

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.[12]

Expansion of the league[edit]

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.[13] Subsequent moves by other teams resulted in a 31st team being added in 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 and been renamed the Baltimore Ravens.[14] The 32nd franchise was the Houston Texans, added in 2002.[15]

NFL in Europe[edit]

The NFL continued to play pre-season games in Europe with the American Bowl series. Paul Tagliabue started a spring developmental league, the World League of American Football (WLAF), with seven teams in North America, plus three in Europe.[16] The European teams dominated in 1991, the first season. After the second season, 1992, in which US-based teams played in the World Bowl, the World League was shut down as it was unsuccessful in the US.[16] In 1995, the spring league returned as the NFL Europe with six teams in Europe.[16] When Tagliabue retired, five teams were based in Germany. Tagliabue's successor Roger Goodell shut down the NFL Europe after the 2007 season.[17] but replaced it with the NFL International Series in October 2007 with regular season games in London.[18] In 2022 the NFL played its first ever Regular Season Game in mainland Europe. The game was played in Munich, Germany on November 13, 2022.

Team movements[edit]

In 1995, Los Angeles lost both its franchises, as the Los Angeles Rams relocated to St. Louis,[19] and the Raiders returned to Oakland.[20] In 1996, the Browns moved to Baltimore, under a new name, as indicated above.[21] In 1997, the Houston Oilers relocated to Tennessee, for one year in Memphis and another year using Vanderbilt Stadium as their home field. (The team changed its name from the Oilers to the Titans upon moving to their permanent stadium in Nashville.)[22]

Response to September 11 attacks[edit]

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.[23] It was the first time the league canceled an entire week's slate of games since the 1987 NFL strike.[24]

A week later, it was announced that the postponed games would be added to the end of the regular season,[25] pushing the Super Bowl into February for the first time.


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

Post-NFL career[edit]

Tagliabue returned to Covington & Burling where he serves as senior counsel.[11]

In 2008, Tagliabue was selected to serve a three-year term as chairman of Georgetown University's board of directors.[28]

Tagliabue has also been honored for his work with gay rights group PFLAG.[29]

He has served on the advisory board of The Iris Network, a nonprofit blindness rehabilitation agency in Portland, Maine.[30]

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.[31] Tagliabue affirmed Goodell's findings of the investigation but overturned all players' suspensions.[32]

On September 4, 2014, Tagliabue was named to the executive board of DC2024, a group trying to bring the 2024 Summer Olympics to Washington, D.C.[33]


Tagliabue won the 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.[34] On January 15, 2020 Tagliabue was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Centennial Class of 2021.[35]

Personal life[edit]

On August 28, 1965 Tagliabue married Chandler Minter in Washington, D.C. Minter was originally from Milledgeville, Georgia and they were introduced at law school. She graduated from the Georgia State College for Women before moving to New York City.[36] They had two children;

  • Andrew Paul Tagliabue, known as Drew (born 1969), who is openly gay resides in New York City.[37]
  • Emily Elizabeth Tagliabue (born 1972); who married John D. Rockefeller V, a son of Jay Rockefeller and Sharon Percy Rockefeller.[38] They have two daughters; Laura Chandler Rockefeller (born c. 2000) and Sophia Percy Rockefeller (born c. 2002)[39] and one son John Davison Rockefeller VI (born c. 2007).[40]

He and his wife reside in Chevy Chase, Maryland.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Wells, Adam. "Roger Goodell's New Contract to Be Last, Will Help Search for Next Commissioner". bleacherreport.com. Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  2. ^ Gildea, William; Wilbon, Michael. "Tagliabue: An Insider Moves Out". washingtonpost.com. WP Company, LLC. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  3. ^ Richardson, Katherine (June 5, 2015). "Board of Directors Appoints New Chair". thehoya.com. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  4. ^ Eskenazi, Gerald (January 28, 1990). "Super Bowl XXIV; Tagliabue Sweeps Into Action". The New York Times. Retrieved October 13, 2009.
  5. ^ "The Big Man". CNN. January 23, 2006.
  6. ^ Rowan, Mike. "NFL commissioner was Hudson athlete in high school days", The Jersey Journal, October 27, 1989. Accessed December 20, 2023, via Newspapers.com. "Raised in the Heights section of Jersey City Tagliabue was an outstanding basketball player for St. Michael’s High School in Union City which has since closed its doors and Georgetown University."
  7. ^ "Georgetown President, Board Members Honor Tagliabue's Legacy as Chair". georgetown.edu. June 11, 2015. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  8. ^ Pierson, Don (October 27, 1989). "Tagliabue Veteran of NFL Warfare". ChicagoTribune.com. The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  9. ^ "That Time Paul Tagliabue Played in a Fixed College Basketball Game – VICE Sports". Vice.com. Archived from the original on September 20, 2016. Retrieved June 7, 2024.
  10. ^ "Patriot's website profile". Archived from the original on February 13, 2005.
  11. ^ a b "Covington & Burling LLP | Biographies | Paul Tagliabue". Cov.com. Retrieved October 19, 2012.
  12. ^ George, Thomas (October 27, 1989). "Tagliabue Is Elected N.F.L. Commissioner". The New York Times. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  13. ^ Litsky, Frank (December 1993). "N.F.L. Expansion Surprise: Jacksonville Jaguars". The New York Times. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  14. ^ "Steelers Put Browns In Pound". CBSNews.com. CBS Interactive, Inc. September 13, 1999. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  15. ^ Glauber, Bob. "It's Houston in 2002/NFL Rejects LA in Awarding Expansion Franchise". newsday.com. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  16. ^ a b c "Tagliabue's tenure: The NFL during Paul Tagliabue's reign as commissioner". sportsbusinessdaily.com. American City Business Journals, Inc. July 31, 2006. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  17. ^ Keeler, Sean (June 23, 2016). "'You didn't play to get rich': what killed NFL Europe?". TheGuardian.com. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  18. ^ "NFL clubs expand commitment to International Series". NFL.com. The National Football League. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  19. ^ Simers, T.J. (April 13, 1995). "NFL Owners OK Rams' Move to St. Louis". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  20. ^ Springer, Steve (June 24, 1995). "Raiders Sign Agreement to Go Back to Oakland : Sports: If league approves the move, it will leave L.A. without pro football. But another team is likely to fill void". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  21. ^ Wright, Branson (April 30, 2017). "Cleveland Browns move to Baltimore left city stunned, angered: PD 175th (photos)". cleveland.com. Advance Ohio. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  22. ^ "Houston Oilers to Move to Nashville". independent.co.uk. October 22, 2011. Archived from the original on May 25, 2022. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  23. ^ Mason, Andrew (September 13, 2001). "NFL presses on after tragedy". NFL.com. Archived from the original on September 15, 2001.
  24. ^ "N.F.L.; Little Hope Seen For Rescheduling Canceled Games". The New York Times. September 28, 1987. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  25. ^ Brandt, Andrew (September 11, 2018). "How the Week of September 11 Unfolded in the NFL". si.com. ABC-SI, LLC. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  26. ^ Baum, Bob (January 25, 2008). "MLK flap shaded first Arizona Super Bowl". South Coast Today. Associated Press.
  27. ^ Anderson, Dave (February 14, 2010). "For Saving Saints, Tagliabue Deserves a Place in the Hall". New York Times. p. SP2.
  28. ^ "Georgetown University: Paul Tagliabue Named Chair of Board of Directors". Explore.georgetown.edu. December 11, 2008. Archived from the original on March 9, 2012. Retrieved October 19, 2012.
  29. ^ "Paul Tagliabue Honored for Work with Gay Group". Outsports.com. Archived from the original on May 23, 2012. Retrieved October 19, 2012.
  30. ^ "Advisory Board".
  31. ^ "Goodell appoints Tagliabue to hear player appeals". Yahoo! Sports. September 30, 2012. Retrieved October 19, 2012.
  32. ^ Ley, Tom (December 11, 2012). "Paul Tagliabue Agrees With Goodell's Bountygate Findings, Vacates All Player Fines And Suspensions, Confuses Everyone". DeadSpin.com. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  33. ^ Sheinin, Dave; O'Connell, Jonathan (September 4, 2014). "Group seeking to bring 2024 Olympics to Washington names executive board". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  34. ^ "FISU homepage". Fisu.net. Retrieved October 19, 2012.
  35. ^ Grant Gordon (January 15, 2020). "Pro Football Hall of Fame Centennial Class revealed". NFL.com. Retrieved January 15, 2020.
  36. ^ "The Big Man". Sports Illustrated Vault | Si.com.
  37. ^ Zeigler, Cyd (February 20, 2013). "NFL Commissioner Honored With Gay Son". Outsports. Retrieved April 26, 2023.
  38. ^ "WEDDINGS;Emily Tagliabue, J.D. Rockefeller 5th". The New York Times. June 23, 1996. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 26, 2023.
  39. ^ "Rockefeller finds purpose in 'people of the state I love so dearly'". Times West Virginian. December 31, 2014. Retrieved April 26, 2023.
  40. ^ News Register

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