SBJ/Jan. 31-Feb. 6, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Bornstein tops Goodell as highest-paid NFL exec

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who made news last week saying he would take a $1 salary if a lockout is declared, was the third-highest-compensated official at the NFL in its most recent fiscal year, according to the league's tax return filed with the Internal Revenue Service last week.

MICHAEL GOOD PHOTOGRAPHY
Steve Bornstein

Steve Bornstein, executive vice president of media and head of the NFL Network, earned $12.65 million, the tax return shows. Former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue took in $12.51 million, though retirement and deferred pay earned in previous years but paid out in the 2010 fiscal year represented all but $1 million of his take, according to the return, which covers the 12-month period ending March 31, 2010.

Goodell, who two years ago in the jaws of the economic downturn took a 25 percent pay cut, earned $9.89 million, up slightly from $9.76 million the previous year.

"I wouldn't compare Bornstein to Goodell. I would compare Bornstein to people in the TV business, which has a high compensation level," said Cathy Griffin, a sports and entertainment compensation adviser.

Bornstein's pay is also a marked increase from the previous year, which was the first one for which more detailed compensation information was provided in the league's tax return. In that year, Bornstein earned $7.5 million, 23 percent less than Goodell.

NFL Compensation
Executive Title Compensation*
Steve Bornstein EVP, media $12.65 million
Paul Tagliabue Former commissioner $12.51 million
Roger Goodell Commissioner $9.89 million
Jeff Pash General counsel $5.53 million
Eric Grubman EVP, business ventures $4.85 million
Anthony Noto^ Chief financial officer $4.47 million
Joe Browne^ EVP, communications, D.C. policy $2 million
Ray Anderson EVP, player operations $1.69 million
* Includes salary, bonus, deferred and retirement pay. All but $1 million of Tagliabue's pay is retirement and deferred pay.^ Listed title reflects the person's position with the league during the measured period. Noto resigned in September 2010. Browne is now senior adviser to the commissioner.Source: NFL tax return for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2010

Bornstein's most recent compensation includes $5.23 million in deferred and retirement pay that can be claimed in future years, $3 million in base pay and a $4.3 million bonus. Goodell's pay includes a $2.9 million base salary and a $6.55 million bonus but no deferred or retirement pay.

It was during the 12-month period that ended March 31, 2010, that Bornstein secured for the NFL extensions with CBS, Fox and NBC, with increases in value for those deals despite the recession. The year saw NFL Network sign Comcast to a deal that pushed the network past the 50 million-home distribution mark. Bornstein also during the year led the launch of NFL RedZone and played a key part in the $720 million Verizon sponsorship for the league by convincing owners the deal wouldn't encroach on existing media rights.

Executive compensation was a hot topic last week when the NFL disclosed significant changes due to the potential for an upcoming work stoppage. The collective-bargaining agreement expires March 4, and the union and league are far apart on reaching a new deal. The league said its executive vice presidents would have 35 percent of their bonuses, due in April, held back until a new deal is struck. Senior vice presidents would have 25 percent held back, and vice presidents would have 10 percent held back. Those bonuses are not detailed in the tax document.

Jeff Pash, the league's general counsel and chief labor negotiator, like Goodell would take a $1 salary during a work stoppage. He earned $5.5 million in the 2010 fiscal year, including $1.1 million in salary and $3.25 million in bonus money.

The tax return also indicates that cost-cutting measures at the league office put in place under Goodell have had some effect. The league in the 2010 fiscal year assessed each club less than it did the previous fiscal year, a rare drop. The league took in $191.2 million in club assessments, or $5.975 million per club, compared with $204.5 million, or $6.4 million per club. The league assesses each club based on the expenses for a given year.

Expenses were down $6 million to $234.6 million. Nearly $97 million of expenses is interest tied to leaguewide financings that flow through the league office. The other major expense is compensation, which including payroll tax and pensions was $75.75 million, compared with $72 million the prior year.

The league spent $920,079 on lobbying, compared with $851,017 the year before.

The NFL league office is structured as a tax-exempt organization and so its tax return by law is public.

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