Paul Tagliabue

A basketball player who made his mark as the longtime commissioner of the National Football League.

When Paul Tagliabue was elected by NFL ownership as the new commissioner of the league in 1989, he was following a legend, Pete Rozelle. Tagliabue’s predecessor served in the role from 1960-89, and it appears that Tagliabue will fashion a considerably long run in the office himself.

Prior to becoming the commissioner, Tagliabue worked with the league as an attorney, serving as a partner in the high-powered firm of Covington & Burling, the NFL’s principal outside legal counsel. During that time, he worked on a wide array of league issues, such as television contracts, expansion, legislative affairs, franchise moves, labor contracts and antitrust cases. His initial work with the league began in 1969.

Though Tagliabue wasn’t a pro athlete himself, he was an accomplished prep and collegiate basketball player. He received an athletic scholarship to Georgetown University, where he majored in Government and was captain of the 1961-62 hoops squad.

Tagliabue was elected to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.