NFL commissioner Roger Goodell survived bungling the Ray Rice situation, Bountygate and Deflategate, and now even Jerry Jones’ ire. Goodell will stay in power through 2024 after finally getting his five-year extension, according to ProFootballTalk.
Goodell will make $4 million guaranteed, with the rest in bonuses adding up to $200 million over the duration of the extension as they are met, according to the New York Times’ Ken Belson.
The extension didn’t come without a fight. Reports first surfaced in mid-September that Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, was attempting to impede the process of the extension.
“If not for Jerry,” one person familiar with the contract negotiations told ESPN in September, “this deal would be done.”
Jones later threatened to sue the NFL to block the extension of Goodell in early November. However, NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said immediately after the threat that negotiations would be ongoing. At the spring meeting, all 32 owners — including Jones — authorized the compensation committee to enter the negotiations and extend him to 2024.
The competition committee released a memo to owners on the contract, via Albert Breer:
Please see the below message sent on behalf of the Compensation Committee.
In recent days, we have spoken with each of you individually regarding the status of the negotiations to extend Commissioner Goodell's employment contract. In the course of those discussions, we have reviewed with you the details of the contract extension. Our Committee unanimously supports the contract and believes that it is fully consistent with “market” compensation and the financial and other parameters outlined to the owners at our May 2017 meeting, as well as in the best interests of ownership. We also have expressed in those conversations our strong and unanimous belief that we should proceed to sign the agreement now, consistent with the unanimous May resolution and to avoid further controversy surrounding this issue. We are pleased to report that there is a nearly unanimous consensus among the ownership in favor of signing the contract extension now.
Accordingly, this will advise the ownership that a binding contract extension has been signed by the Commissioner and by Arthur Blank, on behalf of the League entities.
We are pleased to have resolved this issue and we appreciate the strong support received from our partners. It was particularly gratifying to hear so many owners commit to being more engaged in League affairs and to express the desire to work more closely with the Commissioner and League staff on matters critical to the League. We know that we speak for all of you, as well as for the Commissioner, in saying that the NFL is strongest when our ownership is active and unified.
We look forward to seeing each of you at the Special Meeting in Dallas on December 13th and to working together, as a partnership, to address the important issues facing the League.
Compensation Committee: Arthur Blank, Chairman Clark Hunt Robert Kraft John Mara Bob McNair Art Rooney
Why is Jones so mad about this? Goodell handed star Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott a six-game suspension after the NFL concluded a year-long investigation into domestic violence allegations raised against Elliott by a former girlfriend. Elliott was never charged with a crime and has denied the allegations. Elliott appealed his punishment with the NFL, but the suspension was upheld by Harold Henderson, the league’s arbitrator.
Elliott and the NFLPA filed a federal lawsuit against the league over its handling of the investigation and appeal. The league refused to make Elliott’s accuser available to testify at the appeal. Goodell also declined to appear to explain the reasoning behind his decision. Elliott’s side claims the disciplinary process was fundamentally unfair for these reasons.
Jones also recently claimed that Goodell assured him that Elliott would not be suspended. He called Elliott’s suspension “an unforgivable breach of trust.”
Publicly, Jones said that his opposition to Goodell’s extension isn’t related to Elliott. Instead, Jones claims it’s because he thinks that all 32 owners should have a say in the situation as opposed to the deal being negotiated between Goodell and the six-person competition committee.
Why would the owners extend Goodell? There’s hardly been a dull moment in Goodell’s tenure as commissioner. He ushered in a new personal conduct policy, has overseen new safety measures, and, of course, there have been a few scandals for good measure. There was even that time he died once (but not really).
There has been plenty of criticism of Goodell during his tenure — much of it coming with the way he handled various scandals. The first big one he dealt with was Bountygate, where Goodell initially suspended four Saints players, including Jonathan Vilma, for the entire 2012 season. Former commissioner Paul Tagliabue overturned the sanctions on players, and only the coaches and GM involved — Gregg Williams, Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis, and Joe Vitt — faced punishment.
Deflategate — the scandal in which the Patriots allegedly deflated footballs in the 2015 AFC Championship — showed the power that Goodell possesses, and it’s nearly absolute. As hard as Tom Brady fought to avoid his suspension, Goodell was able to overcome and have the suspension upheld after 544 days.
His biggest struggle has come with the way he has dealt with domestic violence cases. He initially suspended Rice just two games for his punching his then-girlfriend, before a second tape was released that the NFL had already seen, showing the hit. Rice was then suspended indefinitely. Goodell then went on to hand short suspensions to Greg Hardy for his domestic violence case, as well as Adrian Peterson for child abuse.
Most recently, the NFL has been the subject of nationwide debate over players who are protesting police brutality and inequality during the national anthem before games. The movement was started by Colin Kaepernick, who has filed suit against the NFL for allegedly colluding to keep him unemployed because of his protest.
Why did the owners decide to extend Goodell? He’s made the league a lot of money, and has spread the game’s appeal internationally. Goodell also paved the way for an agreement that favored the owners when the NFL and NFLPA hashed out the current Collective Bargaining Agreement before the 2011 season. The owners and players’ association will renegotiate in 2021. Goodell’s extension means he’ll be the one at the table on behalf of the owners yet again.
He’s been paid handsomely over his time as commissioner. Despite his shortcomings, he has made $212.5 million in his 10 years as the NFL’s commissioner.
How did Goodell get this job in the first place? In case you’re wondering how Goodell got there (and how you, too, could one day earn hundreds of millions of dollars as NFL commissioner), he worked his way through the ranks. He was an intern at the NFL office in 1982, before working in the Jets’ PR department in 1983. He then returned to the league office the following year in the PR department, and used to distribute media credentials for postseason games.
Goodell was eventually appointed executive vice president and chief operating officer by then-commissioner Paul Tagliabue in 2001. When Tagliabue retired in 2006, Goodell was able to secure the job.
Now Goodell is holding on to that job through 2024. There’s no telling what he’ll do in that time, but there’s no question he might hear some boos along the way.