Monday, March 18, 2002

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue opened the 2002 NFL Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida, today with a 30-minute review of overall league affairs to a group of approximately 300 owners club presidents, head coaches, front-office employees, and league officials.

Excerpts from the Commissioner’s review include:

* “The quality of competition we presented to the fans in 2001 was unmatched in sports – super athletes engaged in super competition with lots of excitement and surprise.”

* “There were great team performances. For the fourth straight year, five of six division champions were new. Five teams won at least 12 games for only the third time in history. Individual excellence also marked the season, including superstar performances by players such as Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Brett Favre, and Rich Gannon on offense, and Michael Strahan, Ty Law, Brian Urlacher, and Aeneas Williams on defense, to name a few. And the season was filled with memorable games, typified by Week 5 when 10 of 13 Sunday games were decided by 7 points or less. The winning score came on the final play in five of those games.”

* “The past year included many other significant accomplishments. September 11 was a call to leadership – to standing united and putting the greater good of our communities ahead of all other priorities. The challenges were unforeseen, unprecedented, and extremely complex – revising our playing schedule including the Super Bowl, assisting relief efforts, investing in security, affirming patriotism, modifying our game presentation, recognizing heroes and those who were lost. The leaguewide response to these challenges was appropriate and well received, especially the work of our players.”

* “Realignment reached a conclusion last May with your decision to realign the divisions for the first time in more than three decades. The decision followed a step-by-step approach that includes an attractive new scheduling formula and expanded revenue sharing…There is a great deal that is new about the NFL this year. In many ways, there is a new face to the NFL and our job is to translate this new energy into tangible results.”

* “On the labor front, you approved another extension of the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Players Association – the fourth extension of the original 1993 agreement. It will give us almost two decades of labor peace, through at least the 2007 season.”

* “On the business side, clubs continued to make progress on stadium development. New stadiums opened in Denver and Pittsburgh. You approved G-3 stadium financing loans for stadiums in Green Bay and Arizona, bringing our G-3 commitments so far to nearly $650 million for eight projects to assist our communities in stadium construction…In the past decade, 26 NFL stadiums have been built or are on-line to open by 2004. And there are more stadium projects to be developed so that all teams enjoy the benefits of first-rate facilities.”

* “Now our challenge is to move forward, to challenge ourselves as individuals and as a league to rise to next level. In order to keep our eye on the big picture, we have developed a focus around three broad areas that tie together many issues and priorities. The first involves continuing the momentum that came out of last season and adding new excitement. There is a great deal that is new about the NFL this year, and our job is to translate that new energy and new interest in tangible results for the upcoming season and beyond. The second key focus is on fan service in many different dimensions, starting with the security of our stadiums and events. And the third area of focus is on young fans – the next generation of lifelong fans – in a wide variety of endeavors, including participation in youth football.”