King's Corner

December 30, 2002

TRADING E-MAIL WITH ...
NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue

SI: What was the most memorable Christmas gift you received as a
kid?

Tagliabue: Whatever sports gear I was getting--football helmet,
baseball glove, basketball, ice skates, boxing gloves--you name
it. Also, waking up on Christmas in Jersey City every year and
seeing what was new on our model train table.

SI: So what's the big gift for your wife, Chan, this Christmas?

Tagliabue: It's in a little blue box. That's all I can tell you.

SI: Ever think you'd be commissioner for 13 years?

Tagliabue: Pete Rozelle was commissioner for almost 30 years.
That's worth aiming for. But I never give myself a timetable, and
the years pass quickly in this job. I don't know how much longer
I'll go.

SI: Your proudest achievement?

Tagliabue: Helping keep our game fresh, exciting and competitive.
Also, working productively with the players' association for
long-term labor peace.

SI: Your biggest frustration?

Tagliabue: Everyone not living up to our standards for conduct on
and off the field.

SI: Why do you want an outdoor Super Bowl in a northern city?

Tagliabue: Why wouldn't you consider playing America's biggest
sports event in America's biggest city, or in the nation's
capital?

SI: Why is the league more worried about players using ephedra
than cocaine?

Tagliabue: We're not. We're concerned about both, but they're
addressed differently for good reasons. Ephedra is a dangerous
stimulant that falls under our program for steroids and other
performance-enhancing substances. Its use undermines the
integrity of the game. The use of cocaine is a personal
substance-abuse issue.

SI: You're walking down Park Avenue, and Al Davis is coming
toward you. What do you say to him?

Tagliabue: Probably much the same thing I said to [Raiders
defensive end] Trace Armstrong when I saw him the other day:
"Your team is playing very well. Keep it up. You have a heck of a
shot at the Super Bowl." I've had many good conversations with Al
over the years, but none recently.

SI: Favorite movie of all time?

Tagliabue: Probably three. Star Wars. One made in Italy, The
Night of the Shooting Stars, about the near civil war there
during and after World War II. And Animal House. I think some of
the characters were based on guys I knew.

SI: What is it about football that makes it America's game?

Tagliabue: It has its roots deep in the strength of the American
people--to succeed against adversity and to excel individually
and while working intensively with others. It's a lot like life.
It has everything, with extraordinary physical, emotional and
mental challenges.

THE LIST

Scouts from six NFL teams ranked the top 10 prospects in the next
draft. Here is the consensus.

1. Carson Palmer, QB, USC

2. Byron Leftwich, QB, Marshall

3. Jordan Gross, T, Utah

4. Terence Newman, CB, Kansas State

5. Charles Rogers, WR, Michigan State

6. Jimmy Kennedy, DT, Penn State

7. William Joseph, DT, Miami

8. Larry Johnson, RB, Penn State

9. Dewayne Robertson, DT, Kentucky

10. Marcus Trufant, CB, Washington State

MY TWO CENTS

1. The most obvious Pro Bowl snub was the Bucs' Brad Johnson (22
TD passes, six interceptions through 14 games), who may be the
MVP on a playoff front-runner.

2. Making those free-agent shopping lists yet? Look for Bills
wideout Peerless Price and Eagles defensive end Hugh Douglas to
be the hottest commodities. --P.K.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)