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Goodell's the guy

Owners tab chief operating officer as NFL commish

Posted: Tuesday August 8, 2006 6:56PM; Updated: Wednesday August 9, 2006 2:08AM
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Roger Goodell has been the NFL's chief operating officer since 2001.
Roger Goodell has been the NFL's chief operating officer since 2001.
Goodell At A Glance
NAME Roger Goodell
AGE 47
BORN February 19, 1959
CAREER Started as an intern in the league office in 1982 and joined the New York Jets as a public relations intern the following year. Was heavily involved in bringing American Bowl to various countries abroad and created NFL International. Oversaw administration of instant replay system for officiating and restructured league's officiating department. Helped negotiate contract with NFL Referees Association in 2001. Appointed chief operating officer in 2001.
MOST RECENT JOB Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the NFL. Has been current commissioner Paul Tagliabue's top assistant, particularly on expansion and stadium construction.
EDUCATION Washington and Jefferson, magna cum laude, degree in economics
HOMETOWN Jamestown, N.Y.
FAMILY Wife Jane and twin daughters live in New York City area.
QUOTE "I spent my life following my passion. The game of football is the most important thing. You can never forget that."
What is the biggest challenge facing the new commissioner?
Los Angeles
Labor peace
International expansion
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NORTHBROOK, Ill. -- Roger Goodell, who started his pro football career as a lowly intern in the National Football League's New York office, completed a 24-year climb up the National Football League ladder Tuesday when owners elected him to succeed Paul Tagliabue as commissioner.

The eighth chief executive in the 86-year history of the league beat out NFL attorney Gregg Levy, Cleveland attorney Frederick Nance, Fidelity Investments vice chairman Robert Reynolds and Constellation Energy chairman Mayo Shattuck III. It was never much of a contest, because a small group of lower-revenue owners could never muster nearly the 11 votes it would have taken to block Goodell's election.

In the end, the win came at about 5:25 p.m. CDT time in a hotel ballroom in the Chicago suburbs, and it was unanimous, though Oakland owner Al Davis said the meeting was occasionally contentious. Any owners who opposed Goodell knew it was fruitless to continue to work against him. Goodell's coronation came on the fifth ballot, by a vote of 32-0. Search committee co-chair Dan Rooney then went upstairs to Goodell's room in the Renaissance Hotel and told him the good news. When Goodell entered the ballroom, he hugged Tagliabue, and the owners stood as one to applaud their new leader. "A very emotional moment for me,''' Goodell said.

"It's an extraordinary feeling,'' Goodell said after a news conference here, walking down a hallway and palming an official NFL football, a ball that will soon bear his signature. "I'm thrilled by the challenge, and I'm excited for the opportunity. I thank the owners for their confidence in me.''  

The 47-year-old Goodell, who has a five-year contract, said he and Tagliabue had not talked in detail about plans for succession, but he will probably take office sometime before the Sept. 7 start of the NFL season.

Goodell is the son of former New York Republican Sen. Charles Goodell, who was appointed in 1968 to serve out the term of the assassinated Sen. Robert Kennedy. He has business and economics degrees from Washington and Jefferson College in Pennsylvania and joined the NFL in 1982 as an intern. He rose through the ranks and was named the NFL's chief operating officer in 2001, handling disparate and complex business negotiations. "You can't draw up the job experience for this job better than Roger has experienced,'' said New York Giants president John Mara. "He paid his dues and was an ideal candidate from the beginning. There was no reason not to vote for him.''  

"Roger has two great qualities that a commissioner needs," said Broncos President and CEO Pat Bowlen. "He's smart and honest."

"He's shown a passion for the NFL, which is important to me,'' said Davis. "We're excited that a man who has made the NFL his career will get this chance. Roger will do well.''  

Goodell had been Tagliabue's trusted lieutenant. He'd been given increasingly major tasks within the league over the last few years, including riding herd on the NFL's negotiations to put a franchise in Los Angeles, taking an active role in the recent negotiations that led to a $24 billion TV contract with the networks, and assisting in the rancorous talks that led to the extension of the collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association last spring.