Tagliabue, 65, has held the position since taking over for Pete Rozelle in October 1989. The NFL announced the Tagliabue will step down in late July, but part of his contract with the league stipulates that he will be available as a senior executive/advisor through May 31, 2008.
"I believe that now is a positive time to make the transition to a new commissioner," said Tagliabue. "We have a collective bargaining extension in place, long-term television contracts, and have undertaken many other strong elements in league and club operations. I am honored to have been commissioner since late 1989 and to have been heavily involved with the league, its owners, clubs, coaches, players, fans and media since 1969."
NFL owners will begin formal discussions to begin the search for a new commissioner at the NFL Annual Meetings, which begin March 26 in Orlando. It is believed that Roger Goodell, the NFL's chief operating officer, Atlanta general manager Rich McKay and Baltimore Ravens president Dick Cass are to be considered.
Before becoming commissioner in 1989, Tagliabue represented the NFL as an attorney as a partner at Covington & Burling, a Washington, D.C. law firm.