SBJ/August 21-27, 2017/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL likely to extend Goodell’s contract

The NFL is close to extending Commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract through 2024, and an announcement may be coming as soon as this week, sources said.

The 32 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, a league source said.

Since he was hired in 2006, Roger Goodell has received contract extensions in 2009 and 2012.
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The commissioner’s current contract runs through March 2019. The new term is for five more years, which means Goodell will oversee the next round of labor and media negotiations. The collective-bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association expires after the 2020 season, and the media deals run through the 2022 season.

The NFL declined to comment.

“The continuity of both the labor negotiations and the broadcast contracts are not just negotiating them but being able to implement and execute them,” Marc Ganis, a sports consultant close to the NFL and Goodell, said in explaining why the league needed to keep Goodell and get him signed soon. “The preparation for labor negotiations takes years, not months.”

The compensation committee comprises the chairman, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, and five other owners: the New England Patriots’ Robert Kraft, Kansas City Chiefs’ Clark Hunt, Houston Texans’ Bob McNair, New York Giants’ John Mara and Pittsburgh Steelers’ Art Rooney.

Those last four were added in the past year after some owners complained that Goodell’s compensation was decided by just a handful of the league’s top power brokers. (Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson dropped off the compensation committee after he withdrew himself from league business in protest over how the relocation to Los Angeles had been handled.)

Unlike other committees, the new members were chosen by Blank, not the commissioner.

Goodell, whose pay shot up after the 2011 CBA, annually earns in the mid-$30 million range. His high pay drew withering criticism from many quarters, so much so that the league changed its tax status in order to no longer disclose how much the commissioner and other top executives earn.

Asked whether it is reasonable to assume Goodell would not receive the same level of pay, given the criticism, a league source said that is not necessarily a safe assumption. Another source said 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.

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, following 2009 and 2012, since the owners voted to name him Paul Tagliabue’s replacement.

When Goodell took over in 2006, league revenue was slightly above $6 billion. Today revenue is more than $14 billion, and that growth came during a period that included the economic recession starting in 2008, and a spring and summer lockout in 2011. He’s set a goal of $25 billion in revenue by 2027.

The compensation committee began talks with Goodell around the March annual meeting. While rocky at times, the discussions became amicable by mid-July, a source said.

The league also hired a compensation consultant to advise on the commissioner talks, this source said. It could not be determined the identity of the consultant or whether the league had used one before.

Goodell would be 65 years old at the end of a contract running through 2024, with 42 years at the league after starting as an intern in 1982. He rose to chief operating officer before the 2006 election, when he beat a handful of other candidates.


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