Roger Goodell’s job as NFL commissioner may be in jeopardy, but his personal fortune sure isn’t. Goodell is the highest paid executive in the history of sports one of the most highly paid chief executives in the country. He’s not only set for life. He’s set for several lifetimes.
Here’s what you need to know about his compensation:
1. Goodell Made $44.2 Million in 2012
Goodell took home $44.2 million in the 12-month period that ended in March 2013, the most recent period for which data on league compensation is available. That’s an increase of almost 50 percent from the $29.5 million he made in 2011. ESPN has a breakdown of Goodell’s salary in the video above.
Goodell’s compensation is set by his bosses: The league’s 32 owners. And those owners have had plenty of reasons to reward him over the past several years. Revenue for the NFL in 2012 topped $10 billion thanks to soaring broadcast rights deals and unprecedented fan interest.
The NFL is required to report executive compensation because of its status as a tax-exempt non-profit organization. The league qualifies for non-profit status despite raking in billions in revenue because it sends that revenue back to its teams, which are for-profit entities.
2. Goodell Has Earned More Than $100 Million as Commissioner
CNN Money notes that Goodell, who took over for Paul Tagliabu as commissioner in 2006, made $105 million from 2006 to 2012.
The best paid player during that timespan was Peyton Manning, who took home $85.7 million in NFL compensation in addition to millions more in endorsement deals.
3. Most of Goodell’s Salary Comes Through Bonuses
According to a 2013 report by Sports Business Daily, Goodell’s compensation for the 12-month period ending in March 2013 included $3.5 million in base salary and a whopping $40.36 million bonus, of which $5 million was deferred bonus money from the previous year.
Sports Business Daily reported that the reason for Goodell’s compensation was laid out in an email written by owners Arthur Blank of the Atlanta Falcons, Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots and Jerry Richardson of the Carolina Panthers, who comprise the league’s compensation committee.
The owners wrote:
Goodell’s compensation reflects our pay-for-performance philosophy and is appropriate given the fact that the NFL under his consistently strong leadership continues to grow.
4. Former NFL Player Sean Gilbert Wrote a Book About Goodell’s Excessive Compensation
Sean Gilbert, a defensive lineman who played 12 seasons in the NFL, was so appalled by Goodell’s salary — and by the 10-year labor deal the NFL and the NFL Players Association reached in 2011 — that he wrote a book about it titled The $29 Million Tip.
Gilbert’s contention is that Goodell’s massive bonus was a “$29 million tip” given to Goodell by the league’s owners as a reward for raking the players association over the coals in the labor deal, which shifted a higher percentage of league revenue to the owners and instituted a more restrictive rookie pay scale. The labor deal ended an offseason lockout before the lockout cost the league a single regular season game.
From the description of the book:
This negotiation wasn’t just a victory for the owners, it was a rout. By 2012, the NFL made the lopsided nature of this victory known to the public when it rewarded Goodell for a job well done. A job thoroughly done. The NFL owners awarded Goodell a bonus that brought his total income to $29.49 million for 2011, nearly three times more than what he had ever made in any prior year. It was staggering. It was a $29 million tip, as it were.
5.Goodell Is the Highest Paid Executive in American Sports History
Though exact compensation figures are unavailable for Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig and NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Sports Business Daily reported in 2013 that Goodell’s 2012-13 compensation was greater than Selig’s or Silver’s and more than five times that of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. It was also more than than any previous commissioner or other sports executive, making Goodell the highest paid executive in American pro sports history.
Among other leagues, the NBA has never publicly disclosed exec compensation, and with Adam Silver now at the helm, it is unlikely a new commissioner would make more than a long-standing commissioner in a richer sport. The NHL paid Gary Bettman $8.3M in the FY ended June 30, 2012, according to that league’s most recently available tax return.