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COJOMAY
05-27-2006, 05:23 AM
New NFL commish will get to know us
by Tom Powers
http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/news/columnists/14669580.htm

A new NFL commissioner has to be able to do three things: keep the greedy owners from killing the golden goose and/or one another; continue to use the threat of relocation to Los Angeles as a hammer to get new stadiums built throughout the league; know how to navigate his way around Minnesota.

Minnesotans should be very interested in Paul Tagliabue's successor. Remember that the atomic clock is ticking toward the Vikings' 2011 lease expiration at the Metrodome. So far, the Legislature has not accepted Zygi Wilf's generous offer to develop most of the Upper Midwest in return for stadium funding.

If that continues, the next commissioner might decide to get down and dirty.

Tagliabue, who wants to retire this summer, will be tough to follow because he had a lot going for him. He was able to nudge the unruly owners toward a consensus on issues such as a collective bargaining agreement and expansion. Apparently, he is a very persuasive fellow, although you couldn't tell that from our state legislators.

But he has his weak points. Somehow under his watch, the phenomenon of the Small Market NFL Team came into existence. I used to think that applied only to baseball. But apparently, Minnesota has a small-market, revenue-strapped NFL team careening toward financial crises. Only a new stadium can bail it out.

That's despite $73 million in annual TV dough as well as leaguewide revenue sharing.

I'm not sure how this happened, but I'm not going to question it. Twice I've made the mistake of writing that the Metrodome seemed just fine for NFL football.

Oh, man, the resulting blizzard of communiqués from Winter Park was astounding. Two different ownership groups — first the Gang of Ten and then Red McCombs' crew — summoned me to meetings and bombarded me with pie charts, financial data and slide shows.

To this day, whenever I'm involved in something unpleasant, like slamming a car door on my fingers, I think, "At least I'm not getting another financial presentation from the Vikings."

So as far as their stadium quest goes: whatever. But if the matter isn't resolved by this time next year, the new commissioner is going to become preoccupied with our little state. We'll be hearing from him regularly.

Tagliabue, company man to the end, is inching the Los Angeles process forward. He recently committed league money to fund a study of potential sites out there. He definitely doesn't want to go too fast. Several cities still need to be coerced into new facilities.

Incidentally, I'm not sure where the Vikings stand with Anoka County. There was an article on Wednesday quoting stadium point man Lester Bagley as saying Wilf is looking into a Plan B and a Plan C in terms of area sites. Shortly thereafter, the Vikings issued a release saying Wilf remained committed to Anoka County.

So who knows? It's kind of like the Fran Foley thing. "He's great." "He's fired." Go figure.

Tagliabue has a good image and comes across as a fellow the public can trust. That's important in a commissioner because the owners would trample their own grandmothers if it meant getting an additional $20. They are less than user-friendly.

I always think back to when the Gang of Ten sold the team. Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor made a competitive bid. But they sold to author Tom Clancy, who despite offering slightly more, turned out to be less than financially sound. Undaunted, they regrouped and sold to Red McCombs,

I believe, and Taylor still believes, that the league could have steered the sale toward the local ownership, and in the process, probably put the Vikings on the fast track to a new stadium.

But the other owners weren't interested in the best interests of Minnesotans. They cared only about the values of their own franchises rising. So they wanted the Vikings sold for top dollar and would have approved a sale to Saddam Hussein if that's what it took to get it.

Oh, and they did the same thing when Wilf bought the team this time around.

The hot rumor this week is that Florida Governor Jeb Bush is a favored candidate to replace Tagliabue. We'll see. It never turns out to be who you think it will be. When Pete Rozelle retired, few expected Tagliabue to wind up with the job.

Regardless of who takes over, rest assured that we're probably going to get to know him really, really well.

ultravikingfan
05-27-2006, 05:27 AM
New NFL commish will get to know us (http://www.purplepride.org/index.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=22904)

It's at the bottom of the Fan Forum, posted this morning,