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Tagliabue voted leading sports figure

Dec. 26, 2001 at 6:59 PM

ST. LOUIS, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue was the most powerful person in sports in 2001, according to an annual poll released Wednesday by The Sporting News.

Tagliabue finished second on the list twice before, including last year, when Tiger Woods became the the second athlete ever to head the top 100. The 61-year-old Tagliabue has been ranked 16th or higher every year on the list, which TSN first published in 1990.

"Paul Tagliabue set the agenda for all sports to follow in the wake of the national tragedy on Sept. 11," TSN senior vice president and editorial director John Rawlings said. "He is also responsible for setting a course that will result in at least 20 years of labor peace between football owners and players, which is unprecedented in the current sports environment."

George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees and CEO of the newly formed YES Network, was No. 2 on the list, followed by Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of News Corp., which owns the Los Angeles Dodgers and part of English soccer power Manchester United.

Rounding out the top 10 were IMG CEO Mark McCormick, NASCAR's Bill France Jr., NBA commissioner David Stern, Anheuser-Busch executives August Busch IV and Anthony T. Ponturo, CBS Sports president Sean McManus, President George W. Bush and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN, was 11th, one spot ahead of Woods. Washington Wizards forward Michael Jordan, the first athlete to be ranked first on the list in 1997, entered the 2001 survey at No. 33. Jordan made his second comeback this season after spending the 2000-01 campaign as the Wizards' president of basketball operations.

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