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Roger Goodell's NFL Compensation Exceeds $44M In 12-Month Period

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The NFL paid Commissioner Roger Goodell $44.2M in the 12-month period that ended March 31, 2013, the league told SportsBusiness Journal earlier Friday. That figure includes $9.1M of deferred pension and bonus earned the previous year. The league expects to file its tax return, which will include the pay figures, with the IRS on Tuesday. That return will show Goodell earned a $3.5M salary and a $40.36M bonus, though $5M of the bonus was earned the prior year. Disclosure of Goodell’s nearly $30M compensation at this time last year reverberated through the industry. Sean Gilbert, a contender for the top spot at the NFLPA, penned a book called the “The $29 Million ‘Tip,’” arguing Goodell’s pay was gratitude from owners for what the former player contends is a pro-management labor deal struck in ‘11. Even Congress has brought up Goodell’s pay as part of attacks on the league’s non-profit status. Prior to the '11 labor deal, Goodell’s top pay was $11.5M.

The league stressed that $9.1M of Goodell’s pay came from deferred bonus and pension from the ‘11 lockout period and that his true pay is around $35M. “Goodell’s compensation reflects our pay-for-performance philosophy and is appropriate given the fact that the NFL under his consistently strong leadership continues to grow,” NFL owners Arthur Blank, Robert Kraft and Jerry Richardson wrote in a letter to their fellow owners that is scheduled to be e-mailed Friday afternoon. The three owners comprise the league’s compensation committee.

The pay almost assuredly makes Goodell the highest-paid sports exec. MLB in recent years changed its tax status to for-profit, so it no longer is required to make public its return, but when Commissioner Bud Selig signed his latest two-year contract in ‘12, ESPN reported the final year would pay him $22M, though other sources placed the figure north of that in the $30M range.

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