Originally Published: June 22, 2006 4 a.m.
The ultimate sports fantasy job is still available: the next Commissioner of the NFL.
When Paul Tagliabue announced his intention to step down as NFL Commissioner in July, the league appointed a committee to conduct a search for his replacement. The committee has been tight lipped about potential candidates, but that hasn't precluded the media from speculating on the leading contenders.
The majority of speculation centers on Tagliabue's right-hand man in the league office, COO Roger Goodell. As an insider, Goodell is a known quantity to team owners, who may be more comfortable appointing one of their own than taking a chance on an outsider.
Sportsbook.com runs live odds on the next commissioner and Goodell is currently listed as the frontrunner at 1-2. But there are other interesting names on the list, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (200-1), former President Bill Clinton (150-1), and Florida Governor Jeb Bush (50-1).
Rice recently took herself out of the running by declaring that the position "came open at the wrong time." Clinton has yet to comment on the speculation, but as a Democrat, it's unlikely he would be welcome in the NFL boardroom.
Bush is the younger brother of President George W. Bush and was once a minority owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars. When confronted with the possibility of being the next football czar, Bush vowed to fulfill his term as governor, which doesn't expire until next January.
While specific qualifications for leading the $6 billion (revenue) a year league have not been announced, the ability to deal with the oversized egos of 30 NFL owners, in addition to the super-sized egos of two others the Cowboys' Jerry Jones and the Raiders' Al Davis may be at the top of the list. For Rice, Clinton and Bush, that may be the easiest part of the job considering their experience in dealing with the war in Iraq, nuclear proliferation, world hunger, devastating hurricanes, and billion-dollar budget deficits.
Why would anyone have interest in the job? Start with the salary.
According to the Sports Business Journal, Tagliabue's salary for the year ending March 31, 2005, was $8 million, with an additional $1.5 million in benefits, retirement contributions and deferred compensation. Candidates for the position should be forewarned, however, that Tagliabue received total compensation of $11.3 million in the previous year. If that indicates a downward trend in compensation, the next commissioner may be in for some belt-tightening.
Monetary compensation may not be the primary attraction for every candidate. The commish gets front row seats to any NFL game of his choice, including the Super Bowl. Imagine seeing Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction, the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney up close and personal. Along with free nachos and beer.
(Jordan Kobritz can be reached at email@example.com)