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From Intern to Commissioner of the NFL: Roger Goodell

February 1, 2012

You may know where they are now, but where were some of today’s most powerful and influential people before the power and fame? Many held an internship position that created a foundation for their future success!

By Synthia Salas

Before becoming the commissioner of the National Football League, the most successful sports and entertainment entity in America, Roger Goodell began his 30 year NFL career as an intern.

“He wrote about 40 letters: one to every single team in the league at the time, and one to the National Football League.”

Football became a passion for Goodell at a very young age. By the time he graduated from Washington & Jefferson College in 1981 he already knew what he wanted to do – he was going to work for the NFL. He wrote about 40 letters: one to every single team in the league at the time, and one to the National Football League headquarters.  All he needed was one positive response in the pile of rejection letters. He got that response from the league office, a casual reply telling him to “stop by if you’re ever in the area.”

NFL RogerGoodell From Intern to Commissioner of the NFL: Roger Goodell

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, began his career as an intern

Roger’s reply? Yes, he was in the area and could come by the next day. He got in his car, and drove seven hours from the Pittsburgh area to NFL headquarters in New York City. It was worth the drive – a few months later he was working as an administrative intern for the league. This lead to a full-time public relations internship with the Jets in 1983. At the end of his internship, Goodell was offered an entry-level position with the Jets coaching staff. His internships had exposed him to different aspects of  the professional sports industry and he realized exactly what he wanted to do and it was not coaching in the NFL. He was more interested in the  administrative roles of the NFL and returned to the league office full-time.

He continued working his way up and through various positions, culminating in his appointment in 2006 as the Commissioner of the National Football League (and only the 3rd commissioner since 1960).

Amazing story! All it takes is one response from one employer to get your career started. Check out our sports internships.

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