Editor’s note: This story is revised from the print edition.
Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank will step down in May from his chairmanship of the league’s compensation committee after a tumultuous eight-year reign, his spokesman said. He is leaving the committee entirely at that point.
From then on, a new member will take a one-year term as chairman until also leaving, according to an NFL source who added that new members will be voted on by all owners.
In 2017 Blank oversaw the new contract for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, which led to threats of a lawsuit from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and great debate among owners over transparency among the committees. Goodell signed a five-year deal worth roughly $30 million annually, while the league later fined Jones for his legal threats.
The new approach to the compensation committee, agreed to by members, is on this week’s NFL owners’ agenda.
The compensation committee has been the focus of some unusual developments recently. Last May the owners — not Goodell, who typically appoints committee members — agreed to rotate the Chiefs’ Clark Hunt and the now-late Bob McNair of the Houston Texans off the compensation committee. The newly structured committee, under terms of the May 2018 agreement, was then to have its five members vote on a chairman and a vice chairman, both on two-year terms. No other committee has a vice chairman.
But the committee itself scuttled that deal with the new approach of cycling an owner off every year and having him or her be chairman in the last year. It’s unclear who that will be starting in May 2019. The second in line to come off the committee will be a vice chairman who will then become the chairman the following year, a source said. The committee members picked names out of a hat to set their year of leaving, the NFL source said.
Jones has been pushing for new corporate governance measures, such as term limits for committee chairmen and deliberations being made available to all owners before issues come up for a vote. The plan for the compensation committee had been seen as a concession to Jones.
The Cowboys declined to comment.
At the league’s fall meeting in October, Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam was voted onto the committee as the fifth member. In addition to Haslam and Blank, the other members of the compensation committee are the New England Patriots’ Robert Kraft, the New York Giants’ John Mara and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Art Rooney. They are among the most powerful owners in the league.