Paul Tagliabue Receives 2007 Tuss McLaughry Award

Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has been chosen as the 2007 recipient of the AFCA’s highest honor, the Tuss McLaughry Award.

Tagliabue will receive the award at the AFCA’s Coach of the Year Dinner January 10 at the 2007 AFCA Convention in San Antonio, Texas.

The Tuss McLaughry Award, established in 1964, is given to a distinguished American (or Americans) for the highest distinction in service to others. It is named in honor of DeOrmond “Tuss” McLaughry, the first full-time secretary-treasurer of the AFCA and one of the most dedicated and influential members in the history of the Association.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to join the distinguished list of McLaughry Award honorees,” Tagliabue said. “The National Football League has been a strong supporter for the American Football Coaches Association for many decades. The AFCA represents leadership and service at the highest level. The NFL has always strived to do the same. I accept this award on behalf of all the outstanding NFL coaches that have contributed so much to the success of our game.” 

The 34th winner of the award, Tagliabue joins a select group of past McLaughry Award recipients that includes six former U.S. presidents, seven generals, five astronauts and well-known celebrities such as comedian Bob Hope and actors Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne.

Tagliabue served as the Commissioner of the National Football League from late 1989 until September 1, 2006.  His successor, Roger Goodell, previously served as the league’s chief operating officer. 

During Tagliabue’s 17 years as Commissioner, his leadership enabled the NFL to address many key priorities.  Among them, the NFL grew from 28 to 32 teams; operated under successive long-term labor agreements with the NFL Players Association; supported the construction of some 20 new stadiums for NFL teams; established NFL operations in multiple overseas markets (including the six-team NFL Europe League); created a league-wide Internet network and the subscriber-based NFL TV Network (carrying both live NFL games and college football highlight programming); and secured the largest television contracts in entertainment history, with the league’s recently concluded contracts for the next six NFL seasons totaling some $25 billion.   

As commissioner, Tagliabue made it a priority for the NFL to support football at all levels, including college football. He strengthened the NFL’s college relations policies and defended the college eligibility rule prohibiting players from entering the NFL until they have been out of high school for at least three years. He established programs to expand opportunities for minority college coaches and to promote career development for all coaches. His interest in college football led him to attend college regular season and Bowl games during his tenure and to speak at a number of college football functions.

He also created a youth football department in his office and established a $150 million Youth Football Fund with the NFL Players Association in support of a wide range of initiatives aimed at ensuring the future of the game. He also joined with the Players Association and endowed USA Football, a non-profit trade organization representing youth and high school football.

Before becoming the league’s CEO, Tagliabue represented the NFL as an attorney at Covington & Burling, a Washington, DC law firm.  Earlier, Tagliabue served in the office of the United States Secretary of Defense as a policy analyst.  Tagliabue is currently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Tagliabue chairs the board of the Graduate Institute of International Relations and Commerce of the State University of New York (SUNY) in New York City.  He is a member of the boards of Georgetown University, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation and other not-for-profit organizations.  He also has served on the boards of the United Way of America, chairing it in 1998-99, and of the National Urban League.

Born in New Jersey in 1940, Tagliabue attended Georgetown University in Washington, DC, on an athletic grant-in-aid as a basketball player, and graduated as class president, team captain and with honors in political science.  He received his law degree in 1965 with honors at New York University School of Law.  Tagliabue and his wife, Chandler, have a son and a daughter and two granddaughters.

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