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Roger Goodell's Compensation Nearly Tripled To $29.49M In '11

NFL owners nearly tripled Commissioner Roger Goodell’s compensation in '11, paying him $29.49M and likely making him the top paid commissioner in sports. The figure is in the league’s tax return, which the NFL is scheduled to file with the IRS by the end of the day Friday. Most of the pay is in the form of a $22.3M bonus, a compensation structure that will continue into the future. Goodell’s pay is now more closely tied to his performance and not largely derived from a set salary, which was $3.12M in '11. He earned $11.6M total in '10.

Goodell in '11 helped ink a 10-year labor deal and lucrative new TV contracts, so it is unclear if this '11 pay reflects a high water mark of sorts. Goodell’s aim is to dramatically increase NFL revenues, so if he is successful, it then stands to reason his compensation would remain in the mid- to high-$20M range. The NFL declined to comment on the information in the tax return, which by law it must make available if requested. The return covers the '11 season.

“The NFL is the most successful and best-managed sports league in the world,” said Falcons Owner and Compensation Committee Chair Arthur Blank in a prepared statement. “This is in no small part due to Roger’s leadership and the value he brings to the table in every facet of the sport and business of the league. His compensation reflects that.”

NBA Commissioner David Stern and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig are thought to earn in the mid $20M range. MLB’s and the NBA’s tax returns are not public because they are structured as for-profit groups. “The concept is if Roger and the league performs, as the best league in the United States, he should be compensated consistent with that,” said SportsCorp President Marc Ganis, who has close ties to NFL management. Goodell’s contract runs through '19.

The next highest paid NFL exec in '11 was General Counsel Jeff Pash, who earned $8.8M, of which $5.9M was a bonus. Pash was the chief labor negotiator during the CBA strife. NFL Exec VP/Media and NFL Network President & CEO Steve Bornstein, who in past years has been the top paid exec at the NFL, earned $5.7M, of which $2.6M was a bonus.
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