Years of skyrocketing growth put NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on the highest throne in sports, a lucrative gig earning him, at one point, $44 million per year. But months of repeated missteps, failures and black eyes have sawed the legs off that throne, and Goodell now finds his contract extension anything but a rubber-stamp guarantee … even as he’s apparently making some eyebrow-raising contract demands.
The NFL’s compensation committee, headed by the Atlanta Falcons’ Arthur Blank, is considering Goodell’s extension in an atmosphere of acrimony, turmoil and borderline owner revolt. The New York Times reported over the weekend that the committee will meet Monday to discuss Goodell’s new contract, a discussion that has taken on a new edge since Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has voiced his displeasure with Goodell’s role in shaping the current state of the league.
Jones isn’t alone. Few of the top stories of late in the NFL concern actual gameplay; between protest controversies, criticism from the White House, farcical disciplinary courtroom gymnastics involving Ezekiel Elliott and the ever-present question of concussions, the NFL stumbles from crisis to crisis like a quarterback in the open field. And many place the blame squarely on the shoulders of Goodell, who has chosen to rule with an iron fist in some disputes and dispassion bordering on passivity in others.
However, Goodell apparently believes he’s doing a fine job and would like to continue doing it. ESPN reported Sunday morning that Goodell’s contractual demands, made in early August, included a $50 million annual salary, the lifetime use of a private jet and lifetime insurance for his family. Assuming that report is accurate — and it always bears considering that anyone leaking such outrageous terms just might have ulterior motives for doing so — those demands seem presumptuous given the league’s recent strife.
“That number for Roger just seems too much,” one owner said, per ESPN. “It’s offensive. It’s unseemly.”
The NFL has denied the report about Goodell’s demands, and ESPN has clarified to say that the $50 million figure was rounded up from $49.5 million per year:
NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart strongly denies Roger Goodell's only written contract demands in August were for $50 million, plus the perks. Original ESPN source is adamant it is true but clarifies that the amount in writing was $49.5 million, just shy of $50 million.
— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) November 12, 2017
Goodell appears set to remain in his current role; forcing him out would require a two-thirds majority of owners, and Jones doesn’t appear to have that kind of coalition mobilized.
“Roger is defiant,” an NFL owner told ESPN. “He’s not going to resign; he’s not going to take a pay cut.”
Perhaps Goodell believes he can wait out the controversies; fewer players are protesting at each game, for instance, and nobody’s talking seriously about deflate-gate anymore. But as recent NFL history has shown, controversy never stays buried forever, and always seems to come back even worse than before.
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