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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

3/1 - FROM THE GRIDIRON TO THE VINEYARDS: A Conversation with Carmen Policy

Gail & Carmen Policy at Casa Piena in Yountville

Slow Living Radio visited with former San Francisco 49ers Football executive-legend turned vintner, Carmen Policy. 

Carmen Policy 's personal and private lives characterize a commitment to providing the best possible effort driven by an extraordinary sense of passion.

Carmen Policy currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, Gail.  They presently split their time between San Francisco and the Napa Valley where they are actively involved with their working vineyard.  Policy has established a wine under the label of Casa Piena, Italian for “full house”, in recognition of his five children: James (a pediatric-orthopedic surgeon); Daniel (an attorney); Edward (an attorney); Kerry Rae (an MBA graduate); and Kathleen (an attorney).

Policy recently served as president & chief executive officer of the Cleveland Browns from 1998-2004.  He joined the Browns after being named an equity partner by Owner and Chairman Alfred Lerner when Lerner and he were awarded the franchise on September 8, 1998. The formal transfer of ownership from the Browns Trust to Lerner and Policy occurred on October 23, 1998. Despite having to hire a front office and coaching staff prior to the ensuing expansion draft in February of 1999, the shortest time frame between confirmation of ownership and the initial season of play for any recent expansion franchise, Policy helped the Browns reach the post-season in 2002 - the club’s fourth season.

While serving as President & CEO of the Browns, Policy was a member of the NFL Business Ventures Committee (which deals directly with the business and for-profit activities of the NFL) as well as the Super Bowl Advisory Committee and the Los Angeles Market Advisory Group. He also previously has served as a member of the NFL Finance Committee and the Committee on Opportunities and Challenges.

Policy earned a reputation as one of the preeminent executives in professional sport during eight years as president and chief executive officer of the San Francisco 49ers. Both The Sporting News and Pro Football Weekly named him NFL Executive of the Year in 1994, the latter award having been determined by a vote of NFL owners and executives. The Sporting News and GQ Magazine have also named him as one of the most influential people in professional sports. Known for his swift, decisive style, rapid grasp of complex issues and adept problem solving abilities, Policy played a role in all five of the 49ers’ Super Bowl winning teams and helped shape the course for a 49ers organization that became widely viewed as the hallmark sports franchise of the 1980s and ‘90s.

While practicing law in Northeastern Ohio, Policy served the 49ers front office in 1983 as vice president and general counsel. Upon becoming executive vice president in 1989, he took on added responsibility for the team’s front-office activities and represented the 49ers on league matters. He became president and chief executive officer in 1991, at which time he moved to the San Francisco Bay area.  One of Policy’s biggest challenges came during and immediately after the 1993 season, when he was given a mandate to build and maintain a championship team. Creatively applying the NFL’s new salary cap rules, he helped retain key veterans and signed top-quality free agents and draft picks to create a team that responded by winning Super Bowl XXIX (1994 season). The 49ers remained Super Bowl contenders for the four years following Super Bowl XXIX.

An ardent believer in public service, Policy formerly served for several years on the Board of Trustees of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and has maintained a high level of civic and charitable involvement in the communities in which he lived and worked. Those efforts earned him numerous honors, including the prestigious Silver Cable Car Award from the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau for contributions to the development of the city’s business community. He also received The Mayor’s Fiscal Advisory Committee Award in recognition of his managerial experience. He presently serves on the Georgetown Law Center’s Board of Visitors and the UCSF Boards of Trustees.   Until recently he served  on the Board of the California Academy of Sciences and had the privilege of doing so from the start of its construction of the magnificent new building until 3 years after it opened. 

Policy is a 1963 graduate of Youngstown State University, which honored him as Alumnus of the Year in 1997. He earned his Juris Doctorate Degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1966. While he was practicing law, he was listed in all of the existing editions of the highly respected publication, The Best Lawyers in America. Inclusion in the publication is a significant honor since it is based on peer evaluation.  Policy and his wife, Gail, have personally designed and endowed the Carmen and Gail Policy Clinical Fellowship at the Georgetown University Law Center which promotes advocacy in the area of civil rights. ###

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