TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Could Gov. Jeb Bush’s future be in football instead of politics?
While U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has publicly flirted with the idea of becoming the next commissioner of the National Football League, Bush has been privately approached to gauge his interest in the job.
Bush, who spends his Sundays each fall watching pro football, acknowledged Tuesday that the NFL job was broached during a recent meeting with Patrick Rooney Sr., owner of the Palm Beach Kennel Club.
Rooney is the brother of Dan Rooney, who owns the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers and co-chairs the NFL’s search committee looking for a replacement for Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
“I met with Mr. Rooney and I said I’m doing my job until I’m finished and then I’m going to consider other things. But I’m not going to do anything until I finish,” Bush, who leaves office in January, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Although he has repeatedly said he will not seek the presidency in 2008, Bush has declined to say what he does hope to do other than return to Miami.
Asked of his interest should the league hold the job open until he’s ready, Bush replied, “They’re not gonna do that. They’re not gonna do that.”
Patrick Rooney Sr. did not return calls and was out of the country Tuesday.
Tagliabue, who has been commissioner since 1989, announced in March his decision to retire. Although he originally set a July 31 deadline to be out of the job, he has indicated his willingness to stay on longer.
Names that have surfaced for the position include Rice, league Chief Operating Officer Roger Goodell and Atlanta Falcons President Rich McKay.
A fascination with professional sports teams runs in the Bush family. While Jeb Bush had a financial interest in the fledgling Jacksonville Jaguars NFL club, his brother, George W. Bush, assembled a group of partners that purchased Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers in 1989.