Len Pasquerelli believes a dark horse candidate will emerge as Paul Tagliabue’s successor and thinks Colts coach Tony Dungy might fit the bill.
By now, most fans have read the names of NFL vice president Roger Goodell, team presidents Rich McKay of Atlanta and Dick Cass of Baltimore, and league counsel Jeff Pash as current league officials who might be elevated into the commissioner job. All are worthy candidates, but the suspicions of many owners is that Tagliabue’s successor won’t come from that list, and by the end of the process, it will actually be a relative football unknown.
Here are some names, none of which have been on the radar screen yet, that have been suggested by some owners as potential commissioner candidates:
â€¢ Bill Bradley: The former United States senator, and onetime candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bradley certainly knows a lot of about the marriage of sports and politics. A member of the basketball Hall of Fame, and Princeton-educated, Bradley possesses the best of a lot of worlds. But his age (62) and the fact most owners vote Republican probably work against him.
â€¢ Chase Carey: File this name away, because he could be near the top of any “outsiders” list. Carey is the president and CEO of DirecTV. Prior to that he was chairman and CEO of the Fox Television Group. In his 50s, he still plays rugby and has a very active lifestyle. With the league fixated on creating new revenue streams through the Internet and digital media outlets, he would be a guy with some expertise in an area that some visionaries see as the NFL’s next great frontier.
â€¢ Tony Dungy: OK, so the Indianapolis Colts’ coach is hardly an outsider. And he still wants to coach a while longer and, hopefully, to capture the Super Bowl title that has so far eluded him. But by his own admission, Dungy doesn’t plan to be a lifer in his current job. Few men in the league, at any position, are so universally respected. A long shot, no doubt, but a guy not to be summarily dismissed.
â€¢ Arlen Kantarian: Everyone praises his work as the chief executive of professional tennis for the United States Tennis Association. Notable is that he once worked for the league, as the vice present of marketing for NFL Properties. The landscape has changed a lot since he left the NFL, but he remains well-regarded and has a few advocates in the league.
â€¢ Tim Leiweke: The president of the Anschutz Entertainment Group, whose holdings include the Staples Center, hockey’s Los Angeles Kings and soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy.
An interesting list. Dungy, especially, would be a bold pick. He lacks a law degree and the sort of business experience one might expect in a CEO of a multi-billion dollar business but the man undeniably knows football, is highly intelligent, and has a strong work ethic.
Update: Rick Gosselin thinks the NFL needs to think global.
But the NFL’s next step is beyond its popularity in the United States. It’s a global step â€“ and the new commissioner must take football there.
“The challenges going forward,” said Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeff Lurie, “are how to grow the sport in the world of globalization and digitalization â€“ how to maintain the integrity and the popularity of the sport but grow it in a new media world, in a new global world.”
Which is where the ability to speak several languages comes into play.
“In the sports world, as in the business world, you see China, India, Latin America, Eastern Europe …” Lurie said. “Those are the real growth areas. We happen to have an extremely fan-friendly product, but we have not made a lot of inroads in the global marketplace. “That’s a big, big challenge going forward for the National Football League. We need someone to help grow the brand.”
That line of thinking would open up the possibility of a Condi Rice bid. While she has said she’s not interested for now, the NFL can offer her one hell of a pay raise.
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