Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue elected co-chairman of RISE board

March 12, 2018

NEW YORK – Former longtime NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has been elected co-chairman of the Board of Directors for the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE).

Paul Tagliabue

Tagliabue, who has served as an advisor to RISE during the past year and joined the board in January, was elected co-chairman Monday, March 12.

In leading the board, Tagliabue joins Co-Chairman Stephen M. Ross, who founded RISE in 2015 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to harnessing the unifying power of sports to improve race relations and drive social progress. Ross is owner of the Miami Dolphins.

“With his values and deep leadership background in sports, business, law and higher education, Paul is the ideal person to help lead our board as RISE continues to expand its programs,” Ross said. “I am confident under his leadership the organization will have a very positive impact on critical challenges now facing our nation.”

Tagliabue served as commissioner of the National Football League from 1989 until 2006. His leadership featured agreements with the NFL Players Association ending decades of union-management conflict and producing free agency and long-term “labor peace”; programs for expanded job opportunities in coaching and other positions, including the Rooney Rule on head coach hiring with Steelers owner Dan Rooney; the league’s 1990 decision to cancel a planned Arizona Super Bowl when the state declined to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as an official state holiday; and agreements in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 enabling the Saints to remain in New Orleans as a vital civic asset in a completely rebuilt Superdome.

He serves as a member of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics and vice chair and former chair of the Board of Directors for Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Tagliabue also has served on other nonprofit boards, including as chair of the board of the United Way of America and as a member of the National Urban League’s board.

“I look forward to working side by side with Steve Ross and all of the leagues and sports organizations represented on RISE’s governing board,” Tagliabue said. “In just more than two years, RISE has made an impact with events and programs in 25 states. I look forward to helping shape our future as we plan to be in all 50 states by the end of 2020.”

Headquartered in New York and with a Midwest office in Detroit and a South office in Miami Gardens, Florida, RISE provides:

  • Leadership programming for student-athletes, coaches and administrators at the community, middle school, high school, collegiate and professional levels to equip them with the knowledge and skills to stand up against racism and advance the conversation around race relations.
  • Opportunities for athletes to amplify their voices and make a difference as effective advocates to stand up against racism and promote social progress. Through the RISE to Vote campaign, a national nonpartisan effort, RISE partners with sports teams and leagues to register professional athletes to vote and encourage them to lead their fans in becoming informed and engaged citizens.
  • Events for fans in conjunction with college and professional sports games and public awareness campaigns encouraging the public to join with professional athletes and community leaders in taking a pledge to stand against racism.

For more information about RISE, visit

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