Paul Tagliabue
Paul Tagliabue crop.jpg
Tagliabue in August 2002
5th Commissioner
of the National Football League
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 81)
Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.
SpouseChandler Minter (m.1965)
Residence(s)Chevy Chase, Maryland, U.S.
Alma materGeorgetown University
New York University School of Law

Football career

Paul John Tagliabue (/ˈtæɡliəb/; born November 24, 1940) is the former 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]


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] 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,[6] a Rhodes Scholar finalist and a Dean's List graduate.[7]

Tagliabue graduated from New York University School of Law in 1965. He has received honorary degrees from Colgate University and Northeastern University.[8]

From 1969 to 1989, Tagliabue practiced law with the Washington, D.C. firm Covington & Burling.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11] 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.[12] The 32nd franchise was the Houston Texans, added in 2002.[13]

NFL in Europe

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.[14] 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.[15] 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]

Team movements

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

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

Tagliabue returned to Covington & Burling where he serves as senior counsel.[28]

In 2008, Tagliabue was selected to serve a three-year term as chairman of Georgetown University's board of directors.[29]

Tagliabue has also been honored for his work with gay rights group PFLAG.[30]

He has served on the Advisory Board of The Iris Network, a nonprofit blindness rehabilitation agency in Portland, Maine.[31]

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.[32] Tagliabue affirmed Goodell's findings of the investigation but overturned all players' suspensions.[33]

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.[34]


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.[35]

On January 15, 2020 Tagliabue was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Centennial Class of 2021.[36]


  1. ^ Wells, Adam. "Roger Goodell's New Contract to Be Last, Will Help Search for Next Commissioner". Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  2. ^ Gildea, William; Wilbon, Michael. "Tagliabue: An Insider Moves Out". WP Company, LLC. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  3. ^ Richardson, Katherine (5 June 2015). "Board of Directors Appoints New Chair". Retrieved 24 July 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. ^ "Georgetown President, Board Members Honor Tagliabue's Legacy as Chair". 11 June 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  7. ^ Pierson, Don. "Tagliabue Veteran of NFL Warfare". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  8. ^ Patriot's website profile Archived 2005-02-13 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Covington & Burling LLP | Biographies | Paul Tagliabue". Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  10. ^ George, Thomas (27 October 1989). "Tagliabue Is Elected N.F.L. Commissioner". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  11. ^ Litsky, Frank (December 1993). "N.F.L. Expansion Surprise: Jacksonville Jaguars". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  12. ^ "Steelers Put Browns In Pound". CBS Interactive, Inc. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  13. ^ Glauber, Bob. "It's Houston in 2002/NFL Rejects LA in Awarding Expansion Franchise". Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  14. ^ "Tagliabue's tenure: The NFL during Paul Tagliabue's reign as commissioner". American City Business Journals, Inc. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  15. ^ "Tagliabue's tenure: The NFL during Paul Tagliabue's reign as commissioner". American City Business Journals, Inc. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  16. ^ "Tagliabue's tenure: The NFL during Paul Tagliabue's reign as commissioner". American City Business Journals, Inc. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  17. ^ Keeler, Sean (23 June 2016). "'You didn't play to get rich': what killed NFL Europe?". Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  18. ^ "NFL clubs expand commitment to International Series". The National Football League. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  19. ^ Simers, T.J. (13 April 1995). "NFL Owners OK Rams' Move to St. Louis". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  20. ^ Springer, Steve (24 June 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 24 July 2019.
  21. ^ Wright, Branson (30 April 2017). "Cleveland Browns move to Baltimore left city stunned, angered: PD 175th (photos)". Advance Ohio. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  22. ^ "Houston Oilers to Move to Nashville". 22 October 2011. Archived from the original on 2022-05-25. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  23. ^ Mason, Andrew (2001-09-13). "NFL presses on after tragedy". Archived from the original on 2001-09-15.
  24. ^ "N.F.L.; Little Hope Seen For Rescheduling Canceled Games". The New York Times. 28 September 1987. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  25. ^ Brandt, Andrew. "How the Week of September 11 Unfolded in the NFL". ABC-SI, LLC. Retrieved 24 July 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. ^ "Covington & Burling LLP | Biographies | Paul Tagliabue". Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  29. ^ "Georgetown University: Paul Tagliabue Named Chair of Board of Directors". 2008-12-11. Archived from the original on 2012-03-09. Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  30. ^ "Paul Tagliabue Honored for Work with Gay Group". Archived from the original on 2012-05-23. Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  31. ^ "Advisory Board".
  32. ^ "Goodell appoints Tagliabue to hear player appeals". Yahoo! Sports. 2012-09-30. Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  33. ^ Ley, Tom (December 11, 2012). "Paul Tagliabue Agrees With Goodell's Bountygate Findings, Vacates All Player Fines And Suspensions, Confuses Everyone". Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  34. ^ 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.
  35. ^ "FISU homepage". Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  36. ^ Grant Gordon (January 15, 2020). "Pro Football Hall of Fame Centennial Class revealed". Retrieved January 15, 2020.