Tagliabue receiving Jackie Robinson honor

Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue was honored by the Jackie

Robinson Foundation with its ROBIE Humanitarian Award on Monday

night.

Tagliabue received the award at the foundation’s annual black

tie dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. He was recognized

for his commitment to diversity, inclusion, the pursuit of higher

education and his contributions to the NFL and numerous nonprofit

organizations. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Board at

Georgetown University.

Tagliabue appointed the first diversity committee of NFL owners

in 2002, resulting in the Rooney Rule that mandates at least one

minority candidate be interviewed for head coaching and senior

front office vacancies.

“I can’t speak for everyone,” New York Giants General manager

Jerry Reese said, “but for Mr. Tagliabue as commissioner to go out

on a limb and break down some walls for me and other minorities in

all sports, I can never thank him enough. He more than deserves

this award.”

Tagliabue also was praised by Marc Morial, the former mayor of

New Orleans and current president and CEO of the National Urban

League.

“I worked with him after 9-11 when we had to push back the date

of the Super Bowl at the Superdome on very short notice,” Morial

said. “It wasn’t an easy thing for the NFL, but Paul knew how

important the economic and emotional impact of having the game

there was to our city and he worked it out.

“Likewise, after Hurricane Katrina severely damaged New Orleans,

he made sure that the Saints stayed in our city and not move

permanently anywhere else. As a New Orleans native, I think we

should erect a statue of Paul Tagliabue on Canal Street because he

helped save the New Orleans Saints for our city and state.”

Rachel Robinson, the widow of the Hall of Famer who broke major

league baseball’s color barrier, and their daughter Sharon shared

the dais with Tagliabue.

Previous Robie Award winners include Baseball Hall of Famer Hank

Aaron, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and the late tennis great Arthur

Ashe.