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Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has made the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his fifth attempt.
Tagliabue and former New York Giants general manager George Young made it to the hall in Canton, Ohio, as contributors. Ex-Dallas Cowboys safety Cliff Harris and former Cleveland receiver Mac Speedie completed the centennial class announced Wednesday. The class of 10 senior candidates, three contributors and two coaches are part of the hall’s celebration of the NFL’s 100th season.
Tagliabue replaced Pete Rozelle as league commissioner in 1989 and served 17 years, during which there was labor peace, expansion to 32 teams and widespread upgrades in stadiums. The NFL’s television revenues under Tagliabue skyrocketed, and he helped establish a pension system for former players.
The issue that seemed to keep him from earlier selection to the hall was how the NFL dealt with concussions and head trauma. But, as with all commissioners, Tagliabue was doing the bidding of his bosses, the team owners. He made some unwise comments about the connection between concussions and football for which he later apologized.
“Deep appreciation to the Hall of Fame and just as much to all the people who worked with me for almost 50 years in the NFL,” Tagliabue said. “Football is the ultimate team sport, we were not playing the game on the field … the team was people who worked for me at the NFL and the teams and our partners.”
Current Commissioner Roger Goodell noted that Tagliabue is “a guy who made such a difference to the game. I think when you look back at his career, he brought it into the modern era and not only from a business standpoint. He understood how a community and the NFL have to operate together ultimately.”
Young, who also worked under T
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