SBJ/March 3 - 9, 2008/Forty Under 40

Peter Zern

Over the last nine years, Peter Zern has worked close enough with the NFL to merit his own football metaphor.

Peter Zern
Age: 34
Title: Partner
Company: Covington & Burling LLP
Education: A.B., history, Dartmouth, 1995; J.D., Georgetown, 1998
Family: Wife, Kathie; son Christopher and daughter Caitlin (both 1)
Career: Began as an associate at Covington & Burling in 1998; named partner with the firm in 2007.
Last vacation: Rockport, Maine
Last book read: “Let My People Go Surfing,” by Yvon Chouinard
Last movie seen: “The Bourne Ultimatum”
What’s on your iPod? A lot of classic rock and a little bit of country
Pet peeve: One-floor elevator rides
Greatest achievement: My children
Greatest disappointment: Having to cancel a climb up Mount Rainier with college friends at the last minute
Fantasy job: Fly-fishing guide in either Alaska or Patagonia
Executive you most admire: Allen Zern (my father)
Business advice: Ask questions and be thoughtful, and be honest about what you don’t know.

"We rely on him to run with the ball a little more than someone else just because we know he has good judgment and isn't going to make bad decisions," said Jay Bauman, senior counsel for finance and business affairs for the NFL.

One of Zern's first responsibilities when he joined Covington & Burling's sports practice was to help develop the NFL's $1 billion-plus leaguewide credit facility.

"It just kind of ballooned from there," he said. "It's a thrill to be working with the NFL when you're in our shoes. And so I did my best to make sure that kept happening and that I got along well enough with the guys at the NFL that they enjoyed working with me. And things went from there."

Zern played a key role in a few of the more noteworthy NFL stadium developments of the last 10 years. He advised the NFL on its first G-3 stadium loan, made to Robert Kraft and the Patriots. Zern provided similar services to the league for the development of the Cowboys stadium in Arlington, Texas, and the joint Jets-Giants facility in the Meadowlands.

Zern has represented leagues in some of the largest television contracts ever signed, including the NFL's $3.7 billion annual contracts, and recent deals with NASCAR and MLB. More recently, he worked with MLB on the formation of its new television network. His representation in partnership talks with DirecTV and carriage negotiations will help put the network in more than 40 million U.S. households when it launches in 2009.

"Peter has deep expertise in what we do in the corporate sports world, which is media and finance," said Covington partner Doug Gibson. "He advised baseball on their deal. He's working with the NHL currently on their 24-hour network launch. He knows the league issues but he also understands the business, and I think that's why baseball came to him."

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