NEW YORK -- This time it looks like the NFL commissioner
will be all business.
The five finalists to succeed Paul Tagliabue were announced
Sunday with, no surprise, early favorite Roger Goodell still on the
list. Unlike last time, when the late Jim Finks, then the Saints'
general manager, was deadlocked with Tagliabue for three months,
none of them has a background that includes playing or coaching in
the NFL or running a team.
The closest is the 47-year-old Goodell, who remains a clear
favorite -- as he has been for the last five years or so, or since
he was appointed chief operating officer, the No. 2 job to
Tagliabue. Goodell, son of a former U.S. senator from New York,
began his NFL career in 1982 as an intern in the league office,
interned with the New York Jets for a year, and then returned to
the league. He was appointed chief operating officer in 2001.
The other with an NFL background is Gregg Levy, who holds the
same job Tagliabue held when he became commissioner -- the league's
outside counsel. Because he is known by most of the owners, he is
considered the most likely challenger.
The other three finalists are Frederick Nance, a Cleveland
lawyer; Robert L. Reynolds, of Concord, Mass., the vice chairman
and chief operating officer of Fidelity Investments; and Mayo A.
Shattuck III of Baltimore, chairman of the board, president and CEO
of Constellation Energy.
Shattuck's contact with the NFL: His wife, Molly, who is 39,
made the Baltimore Ravens' cheerleading squad for the second
straight year this season.
Reynolds was a college football official for 15 years.
They were selected from a group of 11 semifinalists by a
committee of eight owners headed by Pittsburgh's Dan Rooney and
Carolina's Jerry Richardson.
"They are five that any one of them could make, in my view, a
great commissioner in the NFL," said Dallas owner Jerry Jones, a
member of the committee. "We'll now really get down to it and
figure out who the best man is to be the commissioner."
Jones added: "I don't want to give any indication that gives
the wrong impression -- I just don't know."
The committee had been extremely guarded about the identity of
candidates -- only Goodell's name was well known when Tagliabue
announced his retirement last March and the search committee was
announced. The new commissioner is expected to be elected at
meetings in Chicago from Aug. 7-9 with the eventual successor to
Tagliabue needing votes from 22 of the 32 teams.
Goodell has long been considered Tagliabue's heir apparent and for
the last decade he has been involved in most of the major moves by
the league, including stadium construction, expansion and labor.
Like Tagliabue, he is close to Gene Upshaw, the NFL's union head,
and was closely involved in the delicate talks last March that led
to an extension of the collective bargaining agreement.
The 53-year-old Levy is a partner at Covington & Burling in
Washington, which is where Tagliabue worked when he was elected
commissioner. He has been the lead counsel in several recent court
cases, including the one involving Maurice Clarett, in which a
decision to let the Ohio State running back enter the draft a year
before league rules stipulated was overturned on appeal.
Nance is managing partner of the Cleveland office of Squire
Sanders & Dempsey. The only black finalist, the 52-year-old Nance
handled the negotiation for the city of Cleveland when the Browns
returned to the NFL in 1999 and was the lawyer for the group that
developed the construction of the new Browns stadium.
The 54-year-old Reynolds has been vice president of Fidelity's
management trust company and held several executive jobs with the
firm before that. He has been in his current job since 2000.
The 51-year-old Shattuck, who began his career as an investment
banker, worked at Bankers Trust as vice chairman and was chairman
of the board at Deutsche Bank in Baltimore before joining
Constellation Energy, which ranks 125th on the Fortune 500 list and
owns energy-related businesses that had $17.1 billion in revenues
In addition to Rooney and Richardson, the other members of the
selection committee are Woody Johnson of the Jets, Jerry
Jones of Dallas, New England's Robert Kraft, Al Davis of Oakland,
Kansas City's Lamar Hunt and Mike McCaskey of Chicago.
The ages of the candidates all reflect the desire of the
committee to hire a new commissioner who could serve for a length
of time similar to Tagliabue's.