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Monday, March 20, 2006

NFL COO - And Friend - Roger Goodell Rumored To Take Over For Tagliabue

NFL Commissioner Search | Roger Goodell Oddsmakers Favorite To Win Job | Roger Goodell Press Conference Transcript

I first met Roger Goodell on the phone. I was instructed to call him by Oakland Raiders Executive Assistant Al LoCasale. At the time, I was Economic Advisor to Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris and was working behind the scenes to reestablish the preseason game between the San Francisco 49ers and The Oakland Raiders. Roger and I spent the first 40 minutes talking about politics before we discussed the matter of the game.

The second time we talked -- and that was on several occasions -- was when I worked to bring the Super Bowl to Oakland. I called Roger to ask what his idea of the best Super Bowl was and why. He told me "It was the 1991 Super Bowl. The Giants v. The Bills. It was right after the Gulf War and their was a great feeling of pride in our country and that was reflected in the way the game was presented, with the airplanes overhead, and the fireworks." What that told me was that the NFL understood it's place in America's culture and how what it does is tied to the mood of America. But what it also told me was that Roger knew this, and perhaps better than most.

I remember seeing Roger as I was setting up the video for our Super Bowl: Oakland presentation to Commissioner Tagliabue in a special meeting we had set on May 10th, 2000 at NFL Headquarters in NYC. Roger came over, and showed me how to work the video machine and we talked early on. Later, he joined Commissioner Tagliabue in our presentation meeting. I remember thinking that Roger never seemed to get caught up in the importance of what he was doing. Indeed, he seemed quite comfortable and always personable.

When I returned home, I got the latest issue of The Sports Business Journal, and learned that Roger had just been promoted to Chief Operating Officer of the NFL.

Roger's sometimes the receipient of the blunt words of a deal maker trying to force an outcome with the always careful NFL. In this case, that person was Hollywood's legendary super agent, Mike Ovitz, whom I met after cold calling him in 1997 with an opportunity to own the Oakland Athletics. I ran into Ovitz, who was trying to land an NFL team in Los Angeles, at Super Bowl XXXV between the Oakland Raiders and the Tampa Bay Bucaneers. I asked Mike how the NFL was treating him. "Terrible. Roger Goodell doesn't want an NFL team in LA." I asked if I could tell Roger that he said that, and he said "Yeah. Tell him I said that."

So, I ran into Milt Aldrich, head of NFL Security, and whom I'd not talked to in a couple of years, and asked "Say, are going to see Roger?" Milt said "As a matter of fact, yes." Well, relay this message to him....

The last tiime I saw Roger was at last year's NFL Draft and at this year's great Super Bowl in Detroit. He always asked how I was doing and never seemed to miss a beat of time at his work.

I can't think of a better person to lead the NFL. I hope he gets the job.


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