SBD/Issue 216/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Goodell Still Seen As Favorite As NFL Owners Begin Meeting

As the 32 NFL owners meet today in Chicago to discuss the five finalists to replace Commissioner Paul Tagliabue — NFL Exec VP & COO Roger Goodell, NFL outside counsel Gregg Levy, Cleveland-based attorney Frederick Nance, Fidelity Investments Vice Chair & COO Robert Reynolds and Constellation Energy Chair, President & CEO Mayo Shattuck — Goodell is seen as the favorite. Some owners “believe that if there is a decision at this week’s meeting, only Goodell can get the 22 votes needed for selection.” Goodell’s “biggest problem with discontented owners like [the Bills’ Ralph] Wilson could be his longtime association with the league” (AP, 8/6).

GETTING TO KNOW YOU: The following presents brief biographical information about each candidate (THE DAILY).

Roger Goodell
Age: 47
Currently the NFL’s COO and Tagliabue’s No. 2 man. 
Born February 19, 1959 in Jamestown, New York.
He is the son of former U.S. Rep. and Sen. Charles Goodell (R-NY). Charles Goodell served as a congressman from western New York for ten years and was then appointed to fill the Senate seat left vacant by the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.
Roger Goodell graduated from Washington & Jefferson College in 1981 with a degree in economics.
He started with the NFL as a PR intern in 1982 – cutting and compiling clips (pre- SportsBusiness Daily). A year later, he went to intern in the PR and admin departments of the New York Jets and in 1984, he went back to the league office as a PR assistant.
In 1987 he was appointed assistant to the president of the American Football Conference (AFC), Lamar Hunt, by then-NFL Commissioner Rozelle.
He was named NFL executive vice president and chief operating officer by Tagliabue in December 2001
He lives in the New York area with his wife Jane and their twin daughters.

 

Gregg Levy
Age: 53
Partner in the Washington, DC, law firm of Covington & Burling (Tagliabue’s former law firm). 
Born January 18, 1953 in Columbus, Ohio.
Graduated with a B.A. from Harvard in 1974, then a J.D. from Harvard in 1977.
Levy is the only other candidate with a direct NFL background.  He was lead counsel in Maurice Clarett’s case.  He is also lead counsel for the NFL itself. 
Married with four children.

 

Frederick Nance
Age: 52
Managing Partner at the Cleveland law firm Squire Sanders & Dempsey, where he focuses on commercial litigation, public sector law and construction.
Born in 1953 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Received a B.A. from Harvard in 1975 and a J.D. from Michigan in 1978.
He is the only minority candidate for the commissioner’s post. 
He handled negotiations for the city of Cleveland when the Browns returned in 1999.  He was also the lawyer for the group that developed the construction for the new Browns Stadium.
Married with two children.

 

Robert L. Reynolds
Age: 54
Vice chairman and COO of Fidelity Investments in Boston.
Born March 10, 1952, in West Virgina.
Graduated from West Virginia in 1974 with a B.A. in Business Administration. 
Reynolds was a college football referee for 15 years.
He was a trust officer at Wheeling Dollar Bank. He joined NCNB Corp. of Charlotte, NC, in 1977. He later became Senior VP of NCNB, now Bank of America. He was also Exec VP of Fidelity Management Trust Company and president of Fidelity Institutional Retirement Services Company.
Married with four children.

 

Mayo A. Shattuck III
Age: 51
Chair, President & CEO of Constellation Energy Group, Inc. in Baltimore, Maryland.
Born October 7 1954 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Graduated from Williams College in 1976 and received his MBA from Stanford Univ. in 1980.
Married to wife Molly, who made the Ravens cheerleading squad for the second year this year.
They have five children.

IS THIS THE WEEK? In N.Y., Gary Myers cites a source as saying that “if doubts arise about Goodell, ... Tagliabue’s successor will not be picked this week, with the owners asking for more time to familiarize themselves with the three outside candidates” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/7). But NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw said the owners will stay in Chicago “until they get a commissioner. They better because (Tagliabue) is heading to China, and we have to get that done” (“NFL Total Access,” NFL Network, 8/4).

CLUBHOUSE LEADER: NBC’s Andrea Kremer reported, “The perception of some owners is that a weak field of three candidates from outside the league makes the deck stacked in favor of Goodell, ... and that has some owners decrying what they call the transparency of the selection process” (“Sunday Night Football,” 8/6). Former 49ers and Browns President Carmen Policy said of Goodell, “If I was still involved, there’d be no question –- I’d want someone of Roger’s character, Roger’s experience, Roger’s background and Roger’s dedication. The question is, is there someone else who fills that role? I don’t see it” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 8/6).

OTHER CANDIDATES: In Jacksonville, Vito Stellino wrote Goodell and Levy are the “only two candidates familiar to most NFL owners” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 8/6). In Cleveland, Tony Grossi wrote many inside the NFL “believe the only candidate who might upset Goodell is Levy” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 8/6). In N.Y., Judy Battista wrote the inclusion of Levy “surprised some observers,” but “acknowledged Levy’s impact on the league.” Levy, whose “career mirrors” Tagliabue’s, is “considered one of the top practitioners of sports law in the country.” Raiders Owner Al Davis, a “well-known adversary” of Levy, said, “He has been very good in league legal work. I’ve had to fight him quite a bit.” But one unidentified owner said of Levy, “I just don’t see him carrying the day with the other owners and convincing the owners to pick him over others” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/5). The N.Y. DAILY NEWS’ Myers wrote Goodell’s “strongest challenge will come from” Reynolds (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/6). The N.Y. TIMES’ Battista notes Reynolds “was proposed by” Patriots Owner Robert Kraft, who “will presumably support him, at least in the early voting” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/7).

KEEPING YOU INFORMED: We will be on the ground in Chicago this week as NFL owners meet to name a new commissioner. We will be blogging once the meetings commence today and will continue filing until the meetings adjourn.

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