Raiders' Davis on committee


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Jan 22, 2006
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Raiders' Davis on committee
Nancy Gay, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, April 6, 2006

History repeated itself in the NFL on Wednesday when outgoing commissioner Paul Tagliabue selected Raiders owner Al Davis as one of eight high-profile members of a committee that will choose his successor.

Despite his reputation as a league maverick and voice of dissent, Davis, 76, helped break the seven-month deadlock that preceded the 1989 selection of Tagliabue as the seventh chief executive of the NFL, serving on a second committee of so-called peacemakers that helped settle on a successor for Davis' longtime foe, Pete Rozelle.

Tagliabue, 65, who announced March 20 his intention to retire as commissioner, finally named the somewhat diverse eight-man search committee on Wednesday after more than a week of speculation.

One of Tagliabue's biggest allies and confidants, Pittsburgh Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney, will serve as a co-chairman, along with Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson. Both men, along with Davis, were instrumental in getting NFL owners to compromise last month, bringing about an extension of the expiring collective bargaining agreement with the players.

Tagliabue said last week at the NFL owners' meeting in Orlando that the search committee would include old-guard and newowners, as well as representation from both coasts and high- and low-revenue-producing franchises.

That objective seems to have been achieved.

Davis' inclusion ensures that the California franchises, the Raiders, 49ers and Chargers, will have a voice in seeing that the new commissioner addresses their ongoing stadium-funding issues.

All three franchises are among the NFL's lowest-revenue-producing teams, largely because they play in older, obsolete stadiums that lack adequate amenities to attract season-ticket buyers and lucrative corporate sponsorships. Given that, the California franchises also are dependent on the NFL's revenue-sharing scheme to help them remain competitive.

In another nod to the past, one of the members of the original search committee, Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, is part of the new group. Tagliabue also included powerful Patriots owner Robert Kraft, whose franchise is among the NFL's wealthiest.

Jerry Jones, the vocal Cowboys' owner who opposed the NFL's last-minute compromise on revenue sharing that helped bring about the labor agreement, also gets a voice. The remainder of the committee is a balanced mix: Jets owner Woody Johnson and Bears owner Michael McCaskey.

Although Tagliabue has expressed a desire to vacate his seat by July, he also said he's prepared to remain on board until the new commissioner is in place.

NFL owners are set to meet again May 23-24 in Denver and it's assumed the search committee will have convened several times by conference call or in person before that gathering, in order to present preliminary findings.

As promised, the NFL also has hired an independent search firm to help put together a candidate list. In addition, the outside firm will interview all 32 owners to determine what qualities they consider essential for the next commissioner.

Most NFL owners said last week they expect the selection process to be lengthy.

In 1989, it took 12 ballots to settle on Tagliabue, with two votes conducted at a July meeting and four more at a two-day meeting in October of that year.
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