Former National Football League commissioner Paul Tagliabue was selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, reaching the shrine after four prior failed attempts as a finalist.
Tagliabue, the league’s commissioner from 1989-2006, oversaw a period of historic growth for the NFL that saw expansion to 32 franchises, a series of new and renovated facilities, massive increase in television revenues, and a solidification of American football as by far the most popular sport in the US.
But his candidacy for Hall enshrinement had been hotly debated over the years. That was particularly due to how head trauma and concussion issues in the sport also grew substantially during his tenure, and how he was often dismissive of the debilitating effects of those injuries.
But Tagliabue was selected this time as part of a 15-honoree Centennial class that recognizes key figures from the league’s 100 years.
“Our charge was to scour 100 years of professional football and find the most deserving candidates who have slipped through the cracks,” said Rick Gosselin, Hall of Fame selector.
The Centennial class also includes the late Steve Sabol, who during his long tenure leading NFL Films played a key role in the establishing the iconography of the league and boosting its popularity.