1997 “Penguin of the Year”: Carmen A. Policy

After seven years of molding the San Francisco 49ers into a Super Bowl contender, Carmen A. Policy now directs his challenges toward rebuilding the expansion Cleveland Browns. Policy was is the president and chief executive officer of the Cleveland Browns and has held both positions since the franchise returned to Cleveland in 1998.

Policy and owner Al Learner worked hard to develop a football and front office organization for an expansion team, which is rich in history and legacy. Formal transfer of ownership from the Browns Trust to Policy and Lerner occurred on Oct. 23, 1998. Policy is a 10 percent equity partner in the franchise.

Policy's return to the Mahoning Valley as the 1997 "Penguin of the Year" was a fitting tribute to his excellent leadership as a top executive in professional sports.

His well earned reputation as one of the preeminent executives in professional sport was solidified in 1994 when he was named NFL Executive of the Year by both The Sporting News and Pro Football Weekly.

The Sporting News award was determined by a vote of NFL owners and executives. That honor was a fitting tribute to Policy, who has impressed his colleagues and counterparts with his command of the numerous complex issues he has faced since taking over as the 49ers' chief executive officer in January 1991. None of those tasks, however, was as daunting as what Policy faced following the 1993 football season.

Policy and the 49ers' organization were given a mandate to build a championship team - a mammoth project by itself, but even more complicated by the fact that it would have to be accomplished during the first year of the NFL's first-ever salary cap. And while most NFL teams followed a conservative approach to signing players, Policy orchestrated an aggressive, creative style in managing the new salary constraints.

With the unwavering support of 49ers' owner Edward J. DeBartolo Jr., Policy's guidance helped San Francisco upgrade its talent pool with quality draft picks and significant free agents. The end result was an unprecedented fifth Super Bowl for the 49ers, and for Policy came the distinction of being known around the NFL as the "Master of the Cap".

It is that type of swift, decisive management coupled with a strong personal tie to DeBartolo, that has been the trademark of Policy's presidency and has led to his being named by GQ Magazine and The Sporting News as one of the most influential people in professional sport.

He has a long association with the 49ers organization dating back to DeBartolo's hiring Bill Walsh in 1979. Having worked closely with DeBartolo for many years as his personal attorney, he played a key role in shaping the course for the organization that would be viewed as the hallmark sports franchise of the 1980's and '90's.

Policy, who admittedly enjoys his close working relationship with DeBartolo, joined the 49ers' front office in 1983 as vice-president and legal counsel. He has been involved in all legal and business matters dating back to his promotion to executive vice-president and legal counsel in '89 and was further rewarded for his numerous years of hard work with his ascendancy to club president in 1991.

Often recognized for his involvement with social causes, Policy actively participates in the team's involvement with local civic programs, area humanitarian ventures, and other community projects. His dedication to the area of public service was the impetus behind his being honored by several community and charitable groups.

His management expertise has not been limited to the 49ers, as he plays an active role in league relations, as well as being extremely active in community development. Policy is also a member of the NFL Finance Committee.

Policy also serves on the Board of Directors of the Bay Area Council and the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau. He was selected in 1995 by this important and prestigious organization to receive its Silver Cable Car Award, which is given in recognition of significant contributions to the development of the San Francisco business community. He also was recently honored by being selected to receive The Mayor's Fiscal Advisory Committee Award in recognition of managerial excellence.

A product of Youngstown's Ursuline High School, he graduated from Youngstown State University in 1963, and received his Juris Doctorate Degree in 1966 from Georgetown University Law Center. He was listed in the four existing editions of the highly respected publication The Best Lawyers in America. Inclusion is a significant honor since it is based on peer evaluations.

Policy has five children: James, a pediatric-orthopedic surgeon; Daniel, a Notre Dame and Hastings College of the Law graduate in 1995, presently an attorney; Edward, a Notre Dame and Stanford Law School graduate, who is affiliated with the San Francisco law firm of Heller, Ehurman, White & McAuliffe; Kerry a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and a MBA graduate from Syracuse University; and Kathleen, an attorney.