WASHINGTON, D.C. — As far as Paul Tagliabue was concerned, there was never any question that the NFL would suspend its schedule in the wake of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, as the nation mourned the victims and processed the gravity of the moment.
Yet getting consensus among NFL owners and players to shut down the sport for a week was hardly automatic, the former league commissioner said, as the 20th anniversary of the tragedy approaches.
“I said on Wednesday, ‘We’re not playing. What we need to do now is get a consensus for why. We don’t want to make it look like we’re divided, and we don’t want to make it look like we can be cowed by terrorists,’” Tagliabue told USA TODAY Sports, recalling internal conversations with team owners, league officials and NFL Players Association leadership in the aftermath of the attacks, which occurred on a Tuesday.
“By Wednesday night, Thursday morning, we worked it out.”
Tagliabue’s leadership amid the national crisis was significant, even though it seems evident that the options were limited. His predecessor, the late Pete Rozelle, maintained that the biggest regret from his reign as commissioner was the decision to play games on the weekend following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963.
‘Worse than Pearl Harbor’
After 9/11, Tagliabue was certainly reminded of that history, in addition to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt urging Major League Baseball to proceed…