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Volume 27 No. 10
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Paul Tagliabue, George Young, Steve Sabol Heading To Pro Football HOF

Former NFL Commissioner PAUL TAGLIABUE, who "helped lead the league to new heights during his tenure" from '89-'06, is among the 15 honorees selected for the Pro Football HOF Centennial Class, according to Scott Gleeson of USA TODAY. The NFL during Tagliabue's tenure expanded to 32 teams, saw 20 new stadiums break ground and "pushed toward a global brand." Tagliabue was a "main architect behind the NFL becoming the country's most popular sport." Late NFL Films President STEVE SABOL and former Giants GM GEORGE YOUNG also were "selected along with Tagliabue as contributors" (USA TODAY, 1/15). Tagliabue and Young had been "finalists for the Hall in previous years." Sabol's father, late NFL Films Founder ED SABOL, was inducted into the HOF in '11 (ESPN.com, 1/15). In Baltimore, Childs Walker noted late Ravens Owner ART MODELL was not picked from the 10 "historical contributors" considered for this special class. Modell for years has been "considered a longshot given the bitterness that lingers toward him for relocating the Browns from Ohio." However, his case "received new life" when the HOF announced "plans for its expanded class." Modell was a finalist for induction in both '02 and '13 (BALTIMORE SUN, 1/15).

PAUL'S HALL CALL: Tagliabue said his "first reaction" to being named to the HOF was "one of deep appreciation to the Hall of Fame." He said, "We owe the great debt to the players who do play and the coaches who coach, that's the most important thing." NFL Net's Nate Burleson said Tagliabue "knew exactly what he was doing behind-the-scenes" in order to make it better game and for players "to get more on the back end." Burleson: "I appreciate him deeply." NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL said Tagliabue brought the NFL "into the modern era -- not only from a business standpoint, but the game itself." Goodell: "I don't think we'd have a franchise in New Orleans if it wasn't for Paul Tagliabue's leadership. He was insistent that we continue to have the Saints there and through a lot of difficult challenges for that community, but we're really proud of that. I think he understood how a community and the NFL has to operate together ultimately and I learned a lot from him" ("Good Morning Football," NFL Network, 1/15).

RAISING OBJECTIONS: Many Twitter users took issue with how Tagliabue was selected. The Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett: "Tagliabue, voted down for the Hall of Fame 4 times, got in by vote of the panel in charge of the centennial class. He avoids the full vote that way. The ultimate end around." Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith: "Tagliabue would not have made the Hall of Fame under the normal selection criteria because many members of the selection committee believe he didn't do enough to address brain injuries. The Hall of Fame changed the selection process and Tagliabue got in. I don't like it." The Dallas Morning News' Tim Cowlishaw: "I know it’s different categories. But on same day Drew Pearson fails to make HOF, Paul Tagliabue who called concussion stories 'pack journalism' and created 'Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee' headed by a rheumatologist earns his gold jacket. Way to go, blue ribbon panel." Writer Vito Stellino: "The whole point of the blue ribbon panel was to get Tagliabue in because selection committee rejected him four times. Read League of Denial. He not only didn't do enough to address brain injuries, he said it was a media thing and denied it was a problem. Denier in chief." USA Today's Doug Farrar: "I'm not sure what's more annoying: That Soundgarden didn't get in their Hall of Fame, or that Paul Tagliabue got in his." ESPN's Jamison Hensley: "Not so good day for Baltimore’s football fans: Art Modell, who brought the NFL back to this city, doesn’t get elected. ... Tagliabue, who ungraciously suggested Baltimore build a museum or plant instead of an NFL stadium, goes into the Hall." However, NFL Network's Judy Battista notes Tagliabue "presided over a long period of labor peace" (TWITTER.com, 1/15).

GIANT DEBT OWED: In N.Y., Paul Schwartz writes Young has been called the "man who saved the Giants." The team in '79 had been an "in-fighting mess in ownership and a flop on the field, with 15 consecutive non-playoff seasons," when then-Commissioner PETE ROZELLE "basically told the Giants ... they had to hire Young out of the league office." It did not take long for Young to "turn the Giants around," as he assembled the "key members of championship teams that won" Super Bowls XXI and XXV. Young served as Giants GM from '79-97 and then served as NFL Senior VP/Football Operations from '98 until his death in '01 at the age of 71 (N.Y. POST, 1/15). Also in N.Y., Pat Leonard notes Young was named NFL Exec of the Year five times and is "considered one of the most successful and highly-respected executives in NFL history" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/15). Goodell said the Giants hiring Young was "something that changed the face of that franchise." Goodell: "Their success is in large part because of George Young" ("Good Morning Football," NFL Network, 1/15).

SABOL'S IMPACT: NFL Net's Kyle Brandt said Steve Sabol "changed the way we watched football today." He noted Sabol was "blessed with a director's eye, the mind of a poet, the passion of a linebacker." Burleson said he "grew up watching" NFL Films, and "under that there was a very theatrical and poetic side to football and Steve did that." NFL Net's Peter Schrager added Sabol "made football digestible for even the kid who wasn't going to play in the NFL or the young lady at home who might not ever suit up." NFL Net's Kay Adams: "You cannot write the 100 years of the NFL or celebrate it the way we have this year every day on our show without Steve Sabol" ("Good Morning Football," NFL Network, 1/15). NFL journalist Andrea Kremer tweeted Sabol "launched my TV career," and he "never asked anyone who worked for him to do what he didn't do himself -- work tirelessly and excel." Philadelphia-based WIP-FM's Howard Eskin: "The game became a piece of our fiber with the ways #NFLfilms and Steve Sabol made it religion." NFL writer Antwan Staley: "Sometimes when watching sports ... you feel like a person is part of your family. That’s how I feel about Steve Sabol." Patriots radio broadcaster Bob Socci: "There isn’t anyone or anything that did more to inspire and foster my love for football since childhood" (TWITTER.com, 1/15).