The U.S. National Football League has announced that commissioner Paul Tagliabue will retire in July after more than 16 years in the job.
In a statement Monday, Tagliabue said he believes "that now is a positive time to make the transition to a new commissioner."
The 65-year-old Tagliabue has led the NFL since 1989 when he took over for Pete Rozelle. Last year he signed a two-year contract extension to oversee the completion of the league's new television and labor deals.
The television contract was completed in April of 2005 and the labor deal was agreed to earlier this month, ending the most difficult negotiations since the league and union agreed on a free agency-salary cap deal in 1992.
Owners will begin the search for a new commissioner at their meetings in Orlando, Florida next week. Among the candidates are NFL chief operating officer Roger Goodell, Atlanta Falcons general manager Rich McKay and Baltimore Ravens president Dick Cass.
Some information for this report was provided by AP.