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Paul Tagliabue

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
Jersey City, New Jersey
Alma mater Georgetown University
New York University School of Law

Paul John Tagliabue (; born November 24, 1940) is a former Board of Directors of Georgetown University from 2008 to 2015.


  • Background 1
  • National Football League 2
    • Expansion of the league 2.1
    • Team movements 2.2
    • Response to September 11 attacks 2.3
    • Legacy 2.4
  • Post-NFL career 3
  • Awards 4
  • References 5


Tagliabue was born in 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 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 Los Angeles 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 Stadium 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 counsel.[8]

In 2008, Tagliabue was selected to serve a three-year term as chairman of

  1. ^ Eskenazi, Gerald (January 28, 1990). "Super Bowl XXIV; Tagliabue Sweeps Into Action".  
  2. ^ "The Big Man". CNN. January 23, 2006. 
  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. ^  
  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".  
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "FISU homepage". Retrieved 2012-10-19. 


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.[14]


On September 4, 2014, Tagliabue was named to the executive board of DC2024, a group trying to bring the 2024 Summer Olympics to Washington, DC.[13]

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] Taglabue affirmed Goodell's findings of the investigation but overturned all player's suspensions.[12]

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


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