SBD/August 21, 2017/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Staying Put For A While: NFL Close To Extending Goodell's Contract Through '24

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The NFL is "close to extending Commissioner Roger Goodell's contract through 2024, and an announcement may be coming as soon as this week," according to sources cited by Daniel Kaplan of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. A source said that the 32 team owners "do not need to vote on the renewal because they unanimously agreed at their May meeting to give that authority to the six-owner compensation committee." Goodell's current contract runs through March '19. The new term is for "five more years, which means Goodell will oversee the next round of labor and media negotiations." Goodell annually earns in the mid-$30M range, which drew "withering criticism from many quarters." A source said that it is "not necessarily a safe assumption" that Goodell's salary would be different with this new deal. Another source said that the compensation structure would be "similar to the current contract: a few million dollars annually in salary, with a much larger bonus determined by the compensation committee." Kaplan reports for the "many criticisms leveled at Goodell over the years, the owners like him for two main reasons: Business has boomed during his tenure and he shields them from the brickbats hurled at the league." The new renewal "marks his third" since taking over for Paul Tagliabue in '06 (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/21 issue).

KEY DECISIONS LIE AHEAD: In DC, Mark Maske notes news of Goodell's prospective extension comes as he relationships with Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones and the NFLPA are "back under scrutiny." Jones is said to be "upset about Goodell’s decision" to suspend RB Ezekiel Elliott, while NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith believes a work stoppage in '21 is a "virtual certainty" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 8/21). YAHOO SPORTS' Frank Schwab notes the owners "didn’t extend Goodell because of the threats of the union head, but it ensures continuity on the NFL’s side as it gets ready for that fight." For all the "misplaced panic about a dip in television ratings last season," the preseason HOF game "still drew more viewers than almost all" NBA and MLB playoff games. The NFL is "doing very well, and Goodell is going to reap the rewards." The NFL is a "financial powerhouse, and Goodell is a big reason for that" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/21).

WHY MESS WITH SUCCESS? In Newark, Joe Giglio writes the status quo "wins the day for the NFL" with Goodell's extension. Goodell has taken on "two of the most powerful owners in the sport" in Jones and the Patriots' Robert Kraft in recent years, and while it was "easy to assume that two big-time allies among owners would turn on Goodell, it hasn't done enough to ruin his standing." If Goodell remains in the position through '24, he will have "accrued 19 years at the top of the sport." That would "push him past Paul Tagliabue and into position as the second longest-tenured NFL commissioner ever," trailing only Pete Rozelle's 29-year run (NJ.com, 8/21). BLEACHER REPORT's Tyler Conway notes while there has "been criticism of Goodell's job performance, NFL owners have historically preferred stability at commissioner." The league "has had just three commissioners" -- Rozelle, Tagliabue and Goodell -- since the AFL-NFL merger in '70 (BLEACHERREPORT.com, 8/21).

DEALING WITH CONTROVERSY: In N.Y., Mark Sanchez writes if Goodell has "proven bulletproof" over the last few years. He "stared down" Patriots QB Tom Brady during Deflategate, and he has "presided over the domestic-violence problem in the NFL." Goodell has "tried to weather the concussion and CTE crisis," and to his credit, "appeared to admit the link" between playing football and CTE (NYPOST.com, 8/21). Also in N.Y., Jake Becker notes Goodell’s tenure has seen "no shortage of issues, ranging from the league’s evolving stance on players accused of domestic violence to its handling of player safety, such as concussions and head trauma." Goodell has also been "criticized for his handling of team scandals, such as the Patriots’ Spygate and Deflategate, as well as the Saints’ Bountygate" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 8/21).

TELL US WHAT YOU REALLY THINK: Brady this morning made his weekly appearance on WEEI-FM's "Kirk & Callahan," and he was "asked if he had any thoughts" on Goodell's extension. Brady's response: "Nope, I don't have any thoughts" (WEEI.com, 8/21).

TWITTER REAX
: Bleacher Report's Jason Cole tweeted, "Avg NFL franchise was worth $1B in 2011. It's $2B+ now. If your biz doubled in value in 6 yrs, would you keep your top employee?" The MMQB's Andrew Brandt: "NFL owners have a ten-year, team-friendly CBA; franchise values are skyrocketing and Goodell takes the heat so they don't have to. Extended." ESPN researcher Paul Hembekides: "Goodell made $212.5M from 2006-15. A-Rod & Kobe were only major-sport athletes in North America to earn more in salary over that span."  CBS Sports Radio's Damon Amendolara: "Extension underscores EVERYTHING broken w/ NFL leadership. Massive public distrust, but owners say, 'Hey, he makes us cash.'" ESPN.com's Ian O'Connor: "I'm afraid to stare at this new Roger Goodell contract for fear it will cause retinal burn."
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