Mayo A. Shattuck III, the deal-making chief executive of Constellation Energy Group, is among five finalists to replace Paul Tagliabue as commissioner of the NFL, league officials announced yesterday.
Though Shattuck is considered a long shot for the post, his appearance on the short list of finalists is bound to raise eyebrows at a time when Constellation is fresh off a months-long political debate over rising electric rates in Maryland and is fighting to preserve its $11 billion merger with FPL Group Inc. of Juno Beach, Fla. It was unclear yesterday how his potential involvement with the National Football League might affect the deal or the company, which is poised to become a Fortune 100 energy marketing giant if the merger wins approval from state and federal regulators.
To get the NFL job, Shattuck would have to get past Tagliabue's heir apparent, NFL Chief Operating Officer Roger Goodell. Goodell, 47, is one of Tagliabue's chief aides.
But Shattuck, 51, doesn't lack credibility in the sporting world. He was a finalist to head the U.S. Olympic Committee just before the Salt Lake City Winter Games. He is also an accomplished skier, golfer and rabid fan who gained contacts in the sports world by arranging sales for a number of franchises while serving as head of Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown in the 1990s.
As chairman of the venerable Baltimore investment bank, Shattuck was tapped by former owner Art Modell in 1999 to manage the sale of a minority-ownership position in the Ravens. His wife, Molly, gained prominence last year for making the team's cheerleading squad at age 38.
A Constellation executive indicated Shattuck is serious about the NFL job. Landing the post would give the chief executive one of the most high-profile jobs in the world of sports, with billions of dollars at stake for the most successful sports league in America.
"He considers it an honor and certainly looks forward to the process playing itself out over the next week and a half or so," said David H. Nevins, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Constellation. "In the meantime, and for the foreseeable future, he remains 100 percent committed to his current job."
Shattuck declined to be interviewed on the matter, Nevins said. An NFL spokesman said the league would have no comment beyond its news release naming the finalists.
The other finalists are Gregg Levy, the league's outside counsel; Frederick Nance, a Cleveland lawyer who handled the negotiations to return the Browns to that city in 1999; and Robert L. Reynolds, chief operating officer of Fidelity Investments.
The five were selected from a group of 11 semifinalists -- from an original list of 185 candidates -- by a committee of eight NFL team owners.
Meetings will be held Aug. 7 to 9 in Chicago to elect a commissioner. Each finalist will make a presentation and be interviewed by team owners. The winner must get votes from 22 of the 32 teams.
Yesterday's announcement is bound to add to speculation about Shattuck's future, which has been a parlor game among Baltimore business leaders since it was announced in December that he would not retain the top job at Constellation after the proposed merger with FPL. The deal calls for Shattuck to serve as executive chairman while FPL's Lewis Hay III takes the job of chief executive. Though he has been guaranteed a three-year employment contract with pay equal to Hay's, many believe Shattuck will soon depart from the merged company.
In many respects, Maryland has not been friendly territory for Shattuck during the past year. He endured a spate of attacks by Maryland politicians and consumer advocates, who have sought to pin blame for a 72 percent electric rate increase at Constellation's utility subsidiary, BGE, on greedy corporate executives.
Lawmakers at one point demanded the company reveal how much pay top executives were in line to receive if the merger with FPL is consummated. In June, the company disclosed that Shattuck would forego tens of millions of dollars in bonuses and accelerated pension payments that would be triggered by the deal, virtually erasing any gains the executive stood to make from the merger.