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Monday, January 25, 2010
Don Garber of MLS not your typical commissioner


How many major sports commissioners do you see sporting a tattoo?

David Stern? Roger Goodell? Bud Selig?

Well, Don Garber of Major League Soccer does.

A compass rose on the right clavicle.

Don Garber
Don Garber can't wait to celebrate a World Cup title for the U.S.

"My daughter wanted a tattoo when she turned 18 and I wanted to be there, so she got one, and I did too," said Garber, who stopped by ESPN's offices on Monday. "My son then got a bigger compass rose design on his back when he turned 18. My wife wouldn't get one. So we found a necklace at Tiffany's with the compass rose design."

No matter whether you're a soccer fan or not, that's pretty cool.

But Garber is cut from a different cloth. He spent 16 years working for the NFL before leading the charge for the Major League Soccer in 1999. He knows that MLS is still growing and believes it willl be as popular in the United States as it is elsewhere in the world.

"I know we've said it for decades, but you can see it in the youth playing the sport, the young people talking about the game, the interest in the World Cup," he said. "It's not the next big thing. It's now. It's not a matter of 'if'. It's a matter of 'when'."

Garber has something special planned when the United States wins a World Cup trophy. "I have this 1970 bottle of LaTache burgundy that I plan to open when the U.S. win the World Cup title," said Garber, who has about 1,300 bottles of wine. "I'll keep it until then. Or if another major occasion happens."

ESPN had offered Garber a car service to make the trip from New York to Bristol, Ct.

But Garber turned it down.

"I decided to drive myself. That's because I can smoke this Cuban cigar -- a Cohiba -- on the way home," he said. "It's great for when you take a long drive."

See, not your typical sports commissioner.