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Robert Kraft comments on Tagliabue retirement

Opening remark: "You know, our family bought the team in '94 and we've had twelve years with Paul as Commissioner and I think we hit the sweet spot of his career. What he has done as a manager is unbelievable. You can look what the value of franchises were when we came into the league and what they are today. This is a six billion-dollar business and he has been an amazing manager. What he has done, we've had almost twenty years of labor peace during his administration. And it's a sad day for the NFL because we're going to miss him very much and we have a real challenge to find his replacement."

Re next NFL Commissioner: "First thing is you need someone with great intellect, who is also a consensus builder. All you have to do is look at this recent labor agreement, what happened with that, because the commissioner has to deal with 32 members of a Board of Directors. Each owner owns 3 percent of the league, and each one thinks they have the answers. And if you look at the case the New England Patriots, this labor deal was not in our best interests. But if you look at if from the point of view of the National Football League and what Paul has always stressed, putting the league first, we were able to be convinced that this was the right thing to do for the benefit of the league and to keep labor peace. And that's what his leadership has been about more than anything."

Re did he agree with the path taken to the labor agreement: "No, I didn't agree and he knew where we stood, but he's balancing. You know, I liken his job to running on a treadmill. You increase the speed all the time and the incline keeps going up. That's what the job of the Commissioner of the NFL is. He works, he's really an employee of 32 owners, but he's really the boss of those 32 owners. So there's a judgement that comes along with that job that's like no other job in America."

Re Tagliabue's legacy: "Well I think that he was able to keep labor peace for almost two decades, which allowed us to get the media contracts that are the highest of any sport, anywhere in the world. It's allowed us to establish sponsorships with Fortune 500 companies. And the players have been the biggest beneficiaries. They've gotten roughly 2/3's of the revenue from these agreements and it's been a win-win all around."

Re will he leave with any frustration: "Oh I don't think so, I've worked with him on the TV committee and he had me on the labor committee and the TV committee. And I think once we made the - He had two big decisions. One was what we were going to do with the new cable package, which is now on the NFL Network, and the other one was to get labor peace. I think this deal, the labor negotiation was the most difficult labor negotiation of anything he's had to do in the last twelve years. But he's a very thoughtful person and when he gave up his job, he did it. Those who were around twelve years ago know, when Pete Rozelle retired it was a real mess and he did it at a very difficult time during the league year. Paul used tremendous judgement in retiring at a soft period really, and we have from now until July to pick a new commissioner. And we can still serve our customers and run our business without any interference. So he's always three or four steps ahead of all of us."

Re: "I think Condoleeza Rice would be great. I'd invest in any company she'd be running. But there's a lot of great names that have come out. She's someone that I'm personally - I've had the privilege of having dinner with her and I think she's a great lady and she could run anything, I think.

Re would a woman be accepted as Commissioner: "I think it's about being the right person. And the right - this is a very difficult job and we have a very complicated task ahead of us. The only good news is that Tagliabue was a - he was not the first choice and there was a great deal of acrimony until he finally came in at the alst minute. So we hope to avoid that kind of process this time."

Re the face of the Patriots changing: "Well, I'm focused on the NFL and the news we had today about the Commissioner. What Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli - they've been pretty good changing the face and putting the lipstick and powder on our franchise. We'll let them continue to do that."

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