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NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue: The State of The NFL

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At 11:30 AM EST, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue gave his annual "State of The NFL" speech from the NFL press conference ballroom at Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, Fla. This is the complete speech and press conference.


Good morning and thank you very much for being here today. The Super Bowl always puts the host city in an enormous spotlight. And one of the questions this year has been why are we in Jacksonville. Different people have asked the question in different ways. From my perspective the reason we're here has to do with two things. First of all is the tremendous support for football here in Jacksonville. It's a great football community that has played an important role in high school football, college football and pro football for many, many decades. And Wayne Weaver and the Jacksonville Jaguars have taken that history to a new level here in the last ten years including with those two AFC Championship Game appearances.

But the Super Bowl in Jacksonville is also with the NFL's unique history in small town America and in all towns in America. Part of what it unique and special about our League is the tradition of teams in small and mid sized cities such as Green Bay, Kansas City, Buffalo and now Jacksonville.

Here in a city connected by bridges we say that this Super Bowl is about building bridges, including a bridge to our small-town roots, to the values of our game and to the passion for football in towns of all sizes throughout America.

This game in Jacksonville is a special way to recognize and honor the loyalty of all fans in all the cities that play such an important role in our League. We continue to reach out in special ways, unique ways, different from any other League to serve the fans wherever they are in America. This includes the guaranteed telecasting of every team's games on a regional basis, if not more broadly.

It includes our policies on revenue sharing, which often help small-market teams. It includes our Youth Football Fund where we are investing in fields and communities throughout America, including rural American small towns. To the Jacksonville leadership, Mayor Peyton, Wayne Weaver, Tom Petway, Peter Rummell, Mike Weinstein, Michael Kelly, and thousands of local volunteers, you've done a tremendous job. You worked hard. You worked smart, and you've delivered.

Our Super Bowl on the River is already a success, and we know it's going to build from here through the game on Sunday. We're very, very grateful for your enthusiastic hospitality. I want to congratulate our players, coaches and so many others who made the 2004 season a grand success. That includes at the top of the list the fans who support year-in and year-out is the foundation of our League. It certainly also includes all of you in the media who bring our game to the fans in hundreds of communities throughout America.

This was the type of season that fortunately has become standard for our league and the 32 teams -- intense and unpredictable competition, super individual and super team performances and tremendous fan interest. The enforcement of our downfield contact rule start off as the big story, and probably ended up where it should, which was enhancing our game in a very balanced way and not being intrusive into the game.

On both sides of the ball, offense and defense this 2004 season saw athletes and teams, and Peyton Manning had that season, but so many players had a great season, including players on the Patriots and the Eagles. A few moments ago I was visiting with someone who has the overall excellence of the season both on and off the field.

He's Warrick Dunn of the Falcons. He's sitting with Arthur Blank. He's sitting with his grandmother and one of his youth coaches is here. Take a bow, because I want to say some nice things about you.

Earlier this morning, Connie Payton on behalf of the League presented Warrick with the Walter Payton Award as the NFL Man Of The Year for his outstanding work on the football field and especially in the community. Like Walter Payton, Warrick Dunn is a supremely talented..more..

State of The NFL Page One | State of The NFL Page Two | State of The NFL Page Three | State of The NFL Page Four | State of The NFL Page Five | State of The NFL Page Six | State of The NFL Page Seven

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