Roger Goodell’s litany of unpopular decisions have helped make him a wealthy man, but the billionaires who lined his pockets wisely think he needs a pay cut.
Goodell, one of the most loathed commissioners in the history of American team sports, has cashed in during his polarizing decade-long run. The NFL is a cash cow for owners thanks, in part, to Goodell’s leadership, but there’s little doubt that he has been severely overpaid.
Owners have paid Goodell well over $200 million since he replaced Paul Tagliabue in 2006. He’s made more money than any player during that time, for crying out loud.
Some members of the billionaire’s boys club apparently want their mouthpiece to take a smaller piece of the pie.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported Sunday that an executive session of the Finance and Compensation Committees at the league meetings last week in Phoenix focused on a few issues, including Goodell’s contract and succession planning.
Goodell’s deal runs through March 2019. He originally signed a five-year contract in 2006 that was extended with two years left. His annual compensation was about $10 million under that deal. It ballooned to more than quadruple that amount in 2012 ($44 million). Goodell’s total financial package has dropped in each of the four years from 2012 to 2015.
The NFL paid Goodell $31.7 million in 2015, according to tax filings. The league no longer has to disclose Goodell’s salary after dropping its tax-exempt status. Although it’s unclear what the commish took home last season, some owners evidently believe that it’s still too much.
PFT reported that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones introduced a few key topics during an owners-only meeting, including Goodell’s salary. The head honcho in Dallas recommended that all owners, not just the handful or so on the Compensation Committee, be involved in Goodell’s next contract. According to PFT, “multiple owners currently believe that broader involvement of the membership would result in terms more favorable to the league.”
Translation: Several owners think Goodell is overpaid.
He is, of course.
There’s no denying that business is booming (despite a television ratings dip during an election year). The NFL’s annual revenue stream has more than doubled under Goodell’s tenure to about $14 billion. The league hopes to generate $25 billion by the year 2027.
Owners are making loot hand over fist. The average NFL franchise value increased by 19 percent from 2015-2016 to $2.34 billion, according to Forbes. Goodell obviously deserves more than minimum wage for overseeing the financial explosion in the past decade, but $30-plus million per year salary is excessive.
There’s a school of thought that the NFL is running on auto-pilot these days, which unfairly marginalizes Goodell’s importance to the overall growth and health of the league. But there’s nothing wrong with questioning the commissioner’s exorbitant take-home pay given his shortcomings.
Goodell’s strengths (negotiating a blockbuster TV rights deal and labor peace) are outweighed by his dubious treatment of domestic violence issues and air pressures of footballs.
Goodell’s Trumpian Q-rating, of course, is his own doing. He’s been vilified by players, who repeatedly question his heavy-handed tactics like the silliness over excessive celebrations. His judge, jury and executioner tack on player discipline for years didn’t win him points with the guys that people actually pay to see on fall Sundays.
Although the league rolled out a $100-million campaign to improve concussion research before last season, players and fans remain skeptical of a man at the center of a settlement of a class-action concussion lawsuit for former players.
Goodell’s image is likely beyond repair. For years, he provided cover for the same people who are now looking to hit him where it hurts: His wallet.
But he was making way too much anyway.