NFL to name Tagliabue's successor this week

Updated: August 6, 2006, 11:48 AM ET
SportsTicker

CHICAGO - Paul Tagliabue's successor will be revealed this week.

The search for the next commissioner of the NFL is down to five finalists, who will make presentations before being interviewed by the league owners on Monday.

A special eight-member search committee appointed by Tagliabue to recommend a commissioner pared down an original list of 185 candidates to 11 semifinalists, who were interviewed last month in Detroit. The five that made it through are Roger Goodell, Gregg Levy, Frederick Nance, Robert Reynolds and Mayo Shattuck.

"We should have a new commissioner by Wednesday, perhaps even Tuesday," said search committee co-chairman Dan Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Goodell, the NFL's executive vice president and chief operating officer, is the overwhelming favorite. He has been the top assistant to Tagliabue and was instrumental in the proliferation of new stadiums around the league. Goodell has also worked on putting a team back in Los Angeles and has a strong relationship with Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw.

Goodell, 47, is the son of Charles Goodell, a former United States senator in New York.

Levy, 53, is a partner of the law firm of Covington and Burling in Washington. For more than a decade, he has served as the chief outside legal counsel to the NFL, which was the same job Tagliabue held when he was elected commissioner in 1989.

Levy was lead counsel in the league's victory over Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett in 2004, when Clarett tried to challenge the legality of the NFL draft and enter the league before he was eligible.

Nance, 52, is the lone black finalist. He heads the Squire Sanders & Dempsey law firm in Cleveland and has a client list that includes NBA star LeBron James. Nance helped to negotiate the return of the Cleveland Browns' name to the franchise when the city received an expansion team in 1999, three years after the original franchise defected to Baltimore.

Reynolds, 54, is vice chairman and chief operating officer of Boston-based Fidelity Investments. Known as a dynamic speaker in the business community, Reynolds was a college football referee for 15 years.

Shattuck, 51, is the president and CEO of Constellation Energy Group in Baltimore. He helped Art Modell broker the sale of the Baltimore Ravens.

After each candidate makes a presentation, the 32 owners will divide into subgroups. Each candidate then will be interviewed by owners or club representatives in each subgroup.

When the interviews are completed, the voting will begin. Tagliabue's successor will need 22 of the 32 owners to cast their ballots for him.

Tagliabue, 65, announced his plans to retire last March after negotiating a six-year extension of the collective bargaining agreement and gave the owners until August to find a successor.

Tagliabue's reign of more than 16 years saw the league rise to unprecedented heights.

Tagliabue succeeded the late Pete Rozelle as commissioner on October 26, 1989, after serving as an attorney for the league.

Rozelle was responsible for the NFL becoming America's No. 1 sport, but the league endured player strikes in 1982 and 1987. Under Tagliabue, labor peace was achieved and the the NFL continued its robust growth with record-setting television deals and a massive stadium building program.

The NFL is richly compensated in television deals with CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN and DirecTV. Last year, the NFL completed deals with NBC (six years, $3.6 billion) to carry Sunday night games and with ESPN (eight years, $8.8 billion) for Monday night games. In November 2004, CBS and Fox extended their Sunday NFL deals for six years.

More than two-thirds of the league's 32 teams are either playing in or building stadiums that did not exist when Tagliabue took over as commissioner.

Under Tagliabue's leadership, the NFL grew from 28 to 32 teams and revised its divisional alignment and scheduling formula. During this time, the NFL also expanded its international appeal and presence with the creation of NFL Europe.

The NFL created the first leaguewide Internet network for fans and first satellite television subscription service, and launched the NFL Network on cable and satellite television.

The league will place eight prime-time Thursday and Saturday games on its NFL Network, starting in 2006.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index