Pete Rozelle is often considered the greatest commissioner in all of sports, his easy-going, public-relations ways always mixing perfectly with his keen business acumen.
|Paul Tagliabue's business sense proved hard to beat. (Getty Images)|
Paul Tagliabue proved that theory way wrong.
The NFL announced Monday that Tagliabue will retire this July, and when he does, he will leave behind a legacy of labor peace, prosperity and helping the league grow to levels that once seemed unimaginable.
The gap between the NFL and the other sports leagues has widened greatly under Tagliabue's leadership. It's NFL up here, the others way down below.
Rozelle took the league to new heights, too. But Tagliabue took it well past that.
When the NFL's owners and its players appeared to be on their way to a labor impasse earlier this month, Tagliabue got the owners to push through an agreement, one that included a compromise on the tough subject of internal revenue sharing.
It was perhaps his greatest achievement, one that should help him earn his way into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, alongside fellow commissioners Bert Bell and Rozelle.
Labor peace since 1987 is an amazing thing for a sports league making so much money. But Tagliabue has helped make that a reality.
He has also been a major player in getting new stadiums built around the league, which has led to even more money going into the owners' and players' pockets.
Years ago, Rozelle told me it would be stadiums that would drive the NFL for years to come. He was prophetic, but it was Tagliabue who carried out his vision.
Expansion teams were awarded based on the revenue stadiums could generate.
Super Bowls were awarded based on new stadiums being built.