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Volume 24 No. 154
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Structure Of Roger Goodell's New Contract Seen As A Victory For Jerry Jones

Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones "sees some measure of victory in the structure of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s new contract," in which 90% of the five-year, $200M deal through March '24 is "tied to performance-based incentives," according to Jarrett Bell of USA TODAY. Jones said, "If Roger comes in and knocked it out of the ballpark, he’ll really be rewarded. You’ve got to hope that he has that kind of performance. There are no easy layups here on his bonuses." Jones added, "In a word, it’s accountability. Not suggested accountability, but real accountability." One NFL owner said that Jones "spoke for about 40 minutes" during the morning session at yesterday's owners' meeting in Irving, Texas. The owner: "There was a lot of bluster" (USA TODAY, 12/14). Meanwhile, Colts Owner Jim Irsay said Jones was a "Texas gentleman" yesterday (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 12/14).

BLANK SHEET
: In Ft. Worth, Clarence Hill Jr. writes while Jones "didn't get his way, he did get to walk away with some feelings of accomplishment over how the commissioner's contract will be handled going forward." The "biggest win in the process is that the commissioner will no longer get to hand-pick the chairman of the compensation committee in charge of negotiating his contract." The league in March is "expected to change the bylaws, giving the owners power to vote on the compensation committee." Jones and Falcons Owner Arthur Blank -- who currently serves as the committee's Chair -- "shook hands and made some peace" at yesterday's meeting. Blank said, "We were not necessarily connected totally on how this process should have been handled. I don’t know that there’s a rift going forward" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 12/14). Blank said Jones' role in Goodell's extension was "not a factor." Blank: "We had committed to doing that last November when we first called the owners" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/14). USA TODAY's Bell reports some owners "disputed the notion that the new features of Goodell’s contract are linked to Jones’ opposition, contending that the wrinkles have been under consideration for some time." Some owners also "see Jones as eating crow because there was no full-blown airing out of the contract this week" (USA TODAY, 12/14).

LAST HURRAH: NFL Exec VP/Communications Joe Lockhart confirmed that Goodell's new deal likely "will be his last with the league." Goodell said, "On the subject of this being my last contract, I haven’t made any determinations." In N.Y., Gary Myers cites sources as saying that this is "indeed Goodell’s last contract, but it was bit of mystery why he didn’t want to go public with it." One possibility is that he "doesn’t want to be perceived as a lame duck for the next seven years." He also had "doubts about even signing this contract" a year ago (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/14). Goodell said, "There is a limit to how many years you should serve in this position" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/14).

WHO WON THE BATTLE? YAHOO SPORTS' Charles Robinson writes Goodell's paycheck will be a "year-to-year bonus bonanza completely resting in the hands" of the compensation committee, which he "can’t influence." With only 10% of his contract guaranteed and the rest relying on proving his "worth, that’s a massive deal." It is "exactly what gives Goodell the incentive to listen and implement whatever Jones and his fellow owners want." It is also "exactly what Jones wanted" and means he "won the battle" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/14). In Dallas, David Moore writes yesterday "qualifies as a good day" for Jones. He "chose his words carefully to avoid the appearance of taking credit for any specifics in the structure of Goodell's extension" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/14). In N.Y., Ken Belson writes Goodell is "hardly the perfect leader" for the NFL, but he has "worked for the league for 35 years, and he knows, better than anyone, the owners, their ancestors and their progeny." Belson: "That is no small thing." Goodell "knows which ones he must listen to, and which ones he can pretend to listen to, and how to finesse them." One owner said of Goodell, "People tend to focus on the things he did wrong. But who’s going to replace him? That’s when things bog down." Meanwhile, Jones and several of his allies "continued to quietly complain about the deal, Goodell’s leadership and a league office they believe is filled with too many meddlesome executives" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/14). NFL.com's Judy Battista reported owners emerged from the meeting with their "dirty laundry mostly back where they like it -- behind closed doors." They "insisted that they were again unified behind Goodell." Meanwhile, Goodell and the owners have to "identify and begin to groom a successor sometime soon." Battista: "Finding Goodell's replacement may not be easy" (NFL.com, 12/13).

HUG IT OUT
: PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Charean Williams wrote in a "show of unity," Goodell and Jones "entered the post-meetings press conference together." They "exchanged a man-hug" as Goodell left the podium. Williams: "By appearances, all is well" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 12/13). In Toronto, John Kryk notes Jones "said nice things about Goodell, but spoke mostly in high-minded generalities about the future" (TORONTO SUN, 12/14). In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel notes what has "become clear is that unlike" former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle or former NBA Commissioner David Stern, Goodell is "not a visionary, so he needs to lean on those who are." Jones' concerns were "never invalid but his timing undercut his message; he looked like a pouting brat when he challenged the NFL over some of its handling regarding his star running back, and there was no way to separate the two" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 12/14).

CHANGES AHEAD
: YAHOO SPORTS' Robinson wrote there could be some "cuts" coming in the league office, with senior-level positions being "eliminated by the dozens." A source said that the NFL has "already extended more than 80 retirement packages to a swath of highly paid employees in an effort to cut back a bloated balance sheet in the league office." The source added that the movement for a "slimmed-down executive branch is expected to continue in the coming years," while portions of the disciplinary budget "could also take a hit." The league is also "expected to review the NFL’s role in player investigations -- with special emphasis on the commissioner’s involvement -- and potentially curtail some of the efforts in hopes of beating back the massive legal billing that has mounted in recent years" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/13). Meanwhile, with all the issues the NFL has had this year, Patriots Owner Robert Kraft said, "We lost our focus. I don't think we've talked about the game on the field" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 12/14).