While the retirement announcement from Paul Tagliabue yesterday may be a surprise to some, the facts of the situation make it almost an event to be anticipated. The new agreement between owners and union is in place, and going on 17 years into his tenure the Commissioner hasno more mountains to climb. Why not go out on a roll?

Now the question.....Who to follow the likes of Rozelle and Tagliabue?

Being a Tampa resident the answer screams out at me. Rich McKay. The man who turned the Tampa Bay Buccaneers around (with Tony Dungy at his side, of course), and now rules over the Atlanta Falcons bringing that franchise to much-needed stability.

In addition, there is probably not another club President or GM known to and so highly though of among the owners as Rich McKay. McKay speaks of stability and capability by virtue of his history and performance. The son of an NFL coach of note, and having grown up literally in the NFL, he brings to the table all the strengths necessary for a commissioner.

There is, of course, some call for addressing the huge job of Commissioner by creating a two-person office with one handling the football side of things, and the other the financial/business side. For my money, that is a recipe for disaster. A power struggle would almost certainly follow, and that would not be good for the NFL.

Just as a footnote. Condi Rice has already informed the public and NFL, through one of her spokespeople that she is no longer interested in the position despite the earlier statement she made concerning her love of the commissioner's position. The most positive thing about this approaching decision by the owners is the fact that, after 17 years of one hand on the helm, there is at least one candidate ready and able to step to the forefront. Rich McKay, a man whose time is now!


Tue 03/21/06, 3:38 am EST



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