The Georgetown alumnus and former board chairman was inducted this weekend in Canton, OH
Former Georgetown Hoyas basketball player and Georgetown University alumnus Paul Tagliabue (C’62) has been enshrined Pro Football Hall of Fame. Mr. Tagliabue has been very generous to Georgetown over the years, and has served Georgetown in various capacities including the GU Board of Directors.
— Georgetown Hoops (@GeorgetownHoops) August 7, 2021
Mr. Tagliabue previously was commissioner of the National Football League from 1989 until 2006, and on the Georgetown University Board of Directors from 2006 to 2018. He recently served as Vice Chair of Georgetown University’s Board of Directors and served as Chair from 2009 to 2015.
— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) August 8, 2021
Paul Tagliabue is also a member of the Georgetown Athletics Hall of Fame as “basketball captain, class president and Rhodes Scholarship finalist.”
From one 3️⃣3️⃣ to another, congratulations to Paul Tagliabue, who will be enshrined in the @ProFootballHOF tonight! Well deserved and way to make the Georgetown Basketball Family proud #HOYASAXA #PFHOF20
— Patrick Ewing (@CoachEwing33) August 7, 2021
“It’s a dream come true. I’ll tell you that,” Tagliabue said in his 9-minute, 9-second speech. “Thank you all very, very much. I’m honored to enter the Hall of Fame in this Centennial Class. It spans pro football history.” Tagliabue presided over a period of tremendous growth for the league following the Pete Rozelle era. But he also was dogged by criticisms of his role in the way the league addressed the concussion issue, infamously downplaying head injuries in 1994. Tagliabue spent much of his speech talking about how he achieved unprecedented labor peace with the players.
“In examining what makes the NFL so compelling, I always return to the players who make the game what it is,” Tagliabue said. “The athletes who thrive in the competitive enviornment of the National Football League tend to be intensly motivated individuals with clear values and high morals. Our players in the Hall of Fame epitomize these qualities. They understand work ethic, team work, accountability, and they are committed to do their best on and off the field. We need to respect the players for having these qualities and for what they represent as leaders in sports and in society. The perspectives of the players should be considered when they speak out on issues important to the league and to their communities.
— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) January 15, 2020
The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Centennial class of 2020 is set, and among the 15 honorees selected was former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who helped lead the league to new heights during his tenure from 1989-2006. Under Tagliabue’s 17-year leadership, the NFL expanded to 32 teams, 20 new stadiums broke ground, and the league pushed toward a global brand. Most notably, he was a main architect behind the NFL becoming the country’s most popular sport, securing the largest contracts in entertainment history — totaling $25 billion.
Pro Football Hall of Fame: Paul Tagliabue, Donnie Shell help round out centennial class https://t.co/lFHvVgDu72
— L.A. Times Sports (@latimessports) January 15, 2020
The 80-year-old former NFL Commissioner is only two months from his formal induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, so there is much on his mind as he reflects on his years running the NFL. One of those things, he told USA Today this week, is the growing influence of legalized gambling on pro football and his fear, long held by his predecessors in the commissioner’s chair, that the game may be tempting fate with its recent business partnerships with casinos and the online fantasy betting websites DraftKings and FanDuel.
Tagliabue’s concerns are not based on some irrational fear or a refusal to grow with the times now that gambling has been legalized in roughly half the states in the country. Rather, it is born from personal experience and the sad memory of a 1961 basketball game he played in between Georgetown and NYU.
“We beat the hell out of NYU,’’ Tagliabue told USA today this week. “It was the biggest victory in my three years of basketball at Georgetown. Turns out guys at NYU were taking money to shave points….I still worry about some young guy and someone says to him, ‘Take the money.’”
— The NBS Sports Hour (@NBSSportsHour) August 8, 2021
He was instrumental in the formation of such entities as NFL Network and set a tone to keep the league forward-thinking politically. He used his speech Saturday to encourage people to listen to the individuals who make the game compelling — the players.
“The perspectives of the players should be considered when they speak out on issues important to the league and to their communities,” Tagliabue said. “As (Edgerrin James) put it, don’t speak out until you learn. Don’t act before you know. The voices of players need to be heard. They need to be debated. And they need to be criticized if their views are not well grounded…
“But listen to the players, because they have a lot to teach all of us. “
— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) January 15, 2020
Spock, the former NFL executive, said Tagliabue gets a bad rap, as the science was in its infant stages. “You can say a lot of things about Paul, but he is a human being,” Spock said. “This is not the kind of thing he would try and cover up. I just don’t believe it. And I didn’t see it. So I think a lot of it’s unfair.” Tagliabue in the interview echoed Spock in arguing the science was uncertain on the issue at the time.
And he wanted to set the record straight on a few things. His famous 1994 quote about pack journalism, he said was offered in defense of Upshaw, who had at the time come under attack for allegedly not caring about player health. And two, he wants to clear the air on Pellman, the controversial New York Jets rheumatologist who chaired the MTBI committee, which was disbanded in 2010 and had its work refuted by a succeeding committee — appointed by Tagliabue’s successor, Roger Goodell — as “infected.”
— Lee Reed (@HoyasAD) August 18, 2017
“Bottom line, it sounded like I was shooting the messenger, which was the concussion issue,” he said on Talk of Fame Network. “My intention at the time was to make a point which could have been made fairly simply: that there was a need for better data. There was a need for more reliable information about concussions and uniformity in terms of how they were being defined in terms of severity” …
Tagliabue oversaw a myriad of new stadiums and negotiated television contracts that added billions of dollars to the league’s bank account. Under him, there were no labor stoppages and a very workable environment with the NFL Players Association — an atmosphere that no longer exists.
Former NFL commissioner, 2020 HOF inductee Paul Tagliabue: “I’m proud and grateful to have played a small part in shaping the evolution of the National Football League in the last four decades”https://t.co/2XlMnY9cl3 pic.twitter.com/v0ViLejM1L
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) August 8, 2021
[Ewing] in some ways defines Georgetown basketball in terms of tradition of success on the court with athletes who came and for the most part stayed for an academic experience, not just for a one-year experience. But the other thing is he’s got this unique personal quality of setting his goals very high and this confidence, and it’s not over-confidence and arrogance — just a confidence that when it comes to playing basketball, teaching basketball, coaching basketball, leading a program, that he can achieve at the highest level. He did that as a player, as a professional player.
He’s developed those skills in coaching four different teams in over 14 years, and he just seemed to be a person who would redefine the program in terms of goals and levels of energy. And he has demonstrated over his career — when he came to Georgetown at 17 or 18 years old and now he is 54 years old, which is a 37-year interval — he has demonstrated that he is really a leader and someone who likes to be personally accountable for success and failure — is someone who embraces responsibility and leadership, not someone who shirks from that.
So in the end he had all of the qualities we were looking for. There were three or four people we were still evaluating when it came to the final weekend before we announced the decision on Monday, but then Patrick emerged on the final weekend.
Congratulations to Paul Tagliabue (C’62) for the well-deserved honor of being named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame! A longtime Hoya and treasured supporter of Georgetown, the former NFL commissioner is celebrated for his impact on professional football.https://t.co/PtzYlSfGVD
— Georgetown Univ. (@Georgetown) January 17, 2020