Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 24 No. 155
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Earns Nearly $30M In Compensation For '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 was scheduled to file with the IRS by the end of the day last 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 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. Goodell’s contract runs through '19. The next highest-paid NFL exec in '11 was Exec VP/Labor & 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 (Daniel Kaplan, Staff Writer).

Roger Goodell
Jeff Pash
Steve Bornstein

IT'S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY, MONEY: YAHOO SPORTS’ Brian McIntyre noted while “some argue that Goodell doesn't warrant such a large salary, it is important to remember that he oversees the most popular sports league in the world" that has generated over $9B in annual revenue (, 2/15). In Boston, Greg Bedard noted players and their agents “will be curious about” Goodell’s salary since the salary cap that was $123M in '09 is expected to be $125M and $130M in '15 and ’16, respectively (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/17). In Cleveland, Bud Shaw wrote of Goodell's salary, "Suddenly, $20 million a year and two first-round draft picks for Joe Flacco seems like a bargain” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 2/17). PRO FOOTBALL TALK’s Darin Gantt wrote while $30M “seems a mammoth number, his bosses (the owners) willingly chose to give it to him.” And that should “make it clear to everyone what kind of profits they’re making” (, 2/15). SPORTING NEWS' David Whitley wrote Goodell's goal is to "ensure the NFL's financial health." Whitley: "That's the main job of any CEO. By that standard, Goodell's pay falls in line with the rest of the Fortune 500 crowd" (, 2/17).

SLIMMED DOWN: PRO FOOTBALL TALK’s Mike Florio wrote Bornstein “took a major haircut” with his pay in ’11, and it is “unclear why Bornstein’s pay dropped so dramatically.” His eight-figure compensation “previously was blamed on the realities of the market for high-end TV executives.” Either that market “changed, or the owners decided that Bornstein no longer fits within the ‘high-end’ category” (, 2/15).