Infamous NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is probably the highest earning official in American sports history. Goodell has made around $40 million annually since December 2017. The second highest earning sports commissioner, the NBA’s Adam Silver, makes only $10 million a year.
Here’s how Goodell negotiated his honeypot and the controversies that football fans think hurt his value.
Roger Goodell’s $40 million a year contract
The NFL top gun signed a massive contract that guarantees him $200 million for the five-year contract period 2017-23, reports the New York Times. This amount translates to a whopping $40 million annually.
Goodell’s payday concluded after extensive discussions by the NFL team owners. At some point, his contract extension came under threat from Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys.
Jones was removed as a non-voting member after it was realized that Goodell’s suspension of Ezekiel Elliot, Dallas Cowboy’s best athlete, was reason enough for Jones to be biased. Without opposition, NFL owners finalized Goodell’s contract extension.
But before Goodell earned $40 million annually, he made a career for himself by starting from the bottom.
Roger Goodell’s early years in NFL
Goodell returned in 1984 to a promotion as an assistant in the public relations department. In 1987, he became assistant to Lamar Hunt, the president of the American Football Conference. He eventually became the NFL’s COO.
Goodell’s appointment as commissioner
In 2006, when NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue was up for retirement, Goodell successfully contended for the position.
As NFL commissioner, Goodell’s main job is to preserve the integrity of the game and make it safer. He succeeds in keeping the NFL relevant, but critics remain conflicted on his performance on NFL safety.
Goodell is a polarizing personality. Fans celebrate some of his decisions; others choices expose him to heavy criticism from NFL fans and players. His humongous salary only adds salt to injury.
The Deshaun Watson controversy
More than 24 women accused Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct. After a 15-month investigation, the Cleveland Browns quarterback received a six-game suspension without a fine. Goodell criticized Watson’s six-game suspension and claimed the player deserved a full-year suspension at least.
After public outcry, Goodell presented a statement condemning the ruling as disappointing. He directed the NFL to appeal what he termed as “an inadequate decision.” The league appointed former New Jersey attorney general Peter Harvey to review the appeal. Goodell wants the quarterback suspended for at least a full year.
Some critics claim that Goodell used this opportunity to appeal to the public outcry by feigning disappointment and making the league appeal the verdict against Deshaun’s. As NFL commissioner, Goodell is empowered by the 2020 collective bargaining agreement to decide the final ruling of an appeal.
Therefore, Goodell has the power to suspend the quarterback for an entire year but is instead feigning concern and outrage over the “inadequate ruling.”
Critics have labeled this attempt an unsuccessful act to save face after years of complaints about his relaxed attitude toward sexual abuse accusations.
What next for Goodell?
Goodell earned around $128 million from 2019-21, making him one of the best-compensated sports commissioners in America. His hefty contract extends to 2023, so he can still rack up millions more for about a year until facing another crossroads.
Sources are claiming that another contract extension is in the works. Others claim he is set to finally retire after an 18-year reign as NFL commissioner and highest-paid sports administrator. Only time will tell, but until then, he is still the highest earning sports official in America.