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New NFL Commissioner Gets Thumbs Up From Harlan


Green Bay Packers Chairman and CEO Bob Harlan believes the NFL will maintain its continuity and labor peace with the selection Tuesday of Roger Goodell to succeed Paul Tagliabue as league commissioner.

Harlan was in Chicago representing the Packers at the owners' meetings the past two days, which included presentations by each of the five finalists for commissioner and round-robin interviews with each finalist by groups of eight owners.

Goodell has been Tagliabue's top assistant and in 2000 became the NFL's chief operating officer.

While praising the quality of the group of finalists (which also included lawyers Gregg Levy and Frederick Nance; Fidelity Investments vice chairman Robert Reynolds; and Constellation Energy chairman Mayo Shattuck III), Harlan believes Goodell's intimate knowledge of the league and its components makes him the right individual to succeed Tagliabue, who served as commissioner the past 17 years.

"With someone who was coming from the outside, I was concerned about how long it would take that individual to get to know the 32 different owners, the different concerns of the 32 clubs and what we faced as a league," Harlan said. "That's something Roger has been through and he's ready to start tomorrow.

"He's ready to step in and run with it, and I thought that was very important."

Harlan added Goodell is probably best suited to continue the ongoing labor peace the league has enjoyed under Tagliabue, and he also feels Goodell is acutely aware of the challenges facing a franchise like the Green Bay Packers to stay economically competitive in the league's smallest market.

"I think he understands it from top to bottom," Harlan said. "He came in to see us when we were getting ready to start the stadium referendum, and he sat with me at one game and kept saying to me, 'I can totally understand why you want to save this stadium.'

"He understands our needs and where we're coming from, that revenue sharing and the salary cap are the lifeblood of this franchise in the future."

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