Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

06 Dec 2017

Commissioner Goodell Signs Five-Year Extension

The 2017 NFL season has been most famous for political protests; on-again, off-again domestic violence suspensions; and most recently, exceedingly violent behavior and safety concerns. For all that chaos, however, the league is still clearly making boatloads of money, because today they extended commissioner Roger Goodell to a five-year contract worth up to $200 million. That's $40 million per year; for comparison's sake, the league's highest-paid player, Matthew Stafford, will average about $26 million per year over the course of his contract.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 06 Dec 2017

60 comments, Last at 14 Dec 2017, 1:34am by The Ninjalectual


by justanothersteve :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 5:45pm

Five more years of mediocre to occasionally awful leadership highlighted by the annual first round of the draft booing. Somehow, that's worth more per year than most of us will see in our lifetimes.

by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 9:40pm

Leadership isn't his job.

His job is to be a lightning rod, and keep fans from blaming ownership for all the terrible things they do.

He is astoundingly good at his job.

by jtr :: Thu, 12/07/2017 - 8:57am

Goodell doesn't sneeze without getting a majority of the owners to agree first. His two main jobs are to absorb flak for league decisions and negotiate the CBA, and he's done a great job of both.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 1:15am

Well, Goodell didn't negotiate the CBA himself. The owners did that. Kraft in particular was heavily involved.

Goodell's job description is supposed to include maintaining the league's image. I don't think he's done a good job there.

by Rich A :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 5:58pm

I'm dumbfounded.

I get that he's an easy face for the owners to put out there but this is the kind of thing that turns fans away from the game. I guess the owner's don't believe that...

I guess they see that their boat rose over the last 15 years and thought, hey, he did a great job, when in fact most economic boats have risen over the past 10 years or so....


by RickD :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 1:17am

This decision was really made in the Spring. Jerry Jones decided in the past couple of months he wanted to go back on the deal, but it was too late. They had already decided to retain Goodel, it was just a question of the contract structure.

The owners don't seem to care that he's unpopular. They are only slowly realizing that he might also be incompetent.

by The Ninjalectual :: Thu, 12/14/2017 - 1:30am

What owners are slowly realizing that? Not Jery Jones, all he realizes is that his star player got punished. When have any of them cared about his competency? Most don't care or even realize their own teams aren't competent.

This country needs relegation

by ddoubleday :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 6:03pm

Nobody said NFL owners were smart. I'm sure there are any number of people who could be had at the $1M/year level who could do this job as well as Goodell has done it.

by Mash Wilson :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 6:21pm

Did he get the private jet for life, though?

by FireSnake :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 6:33pm

He said he would pay for it. He only wanted the lower NFL rates from netjets I believe it was.

by FireSnake :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 6:31pm

Well each owner only pays a max of 1.25m per year for Goodell.

If you take a look at how much money he has made the league since 2006 (salary cap twice as high), that's money well spent. Even for Jerry, whose Cowboys are valued four times as much as in 2006. These guys make so much money they don't know where to spend it. And you can make a lot of money with teams that are not performing well these days.

by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 7:02pm

Can you tell me a single thing Roger has done to make the league money that any able bodied commissioner - or even no commissioner - couldn't have also done?

by Richie :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 7:10pm

It doesn't seem like he's done anything. Who's to say that a better commissioner couldn't have 5x'ed the Cowboys valuation?

We can say the owners are dumb for extending Goodell, but most of these guys didn't get to be billionaires by being dumb. Surely they are aware of some actual wins by Goodell.

by Anon Ymous :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 7:20pm

I suspect his primary role is to be a combination whipping boy and scapegoat.

by Richie :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 7:47pm

I agree. But there must be more to it than that. Surely they could find somebody else willing to be a whipping boy for much less.

by morganja :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 8:10pm

It takes surprisingly little brains to inherit a lot of money.

by Richie :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 8:25pm

I'm guessing fewer than half the owners inherited their money.

by morganja :: Thu, 12/07/2017 - 10:48am

Every last one of them inherited a fortune.

by Richie :: Thu, 12/07/2017 - 1:53pm

Are you being sarcastic?

Arthur Blank was raised by average parents and made a fortune from Home Depot.

Jerry Jones' father owned an insurance agency. Jones eventually made his fortune in the oil industry.

Shahid Khan grew up in middle class Pakistan. But when he came to America for college, he got a job washing dishes. He built his fortune by starting a company that built custom car bumpers.

I could go on.

by morganja :: Thu, 12/07/2017 - 3:12pm

No. They all were born very wealthy.

Jerry Jones:
Which part of 'his father owned an insurance company' and 'he started out by borrowing a million dollars in 1965 (current value $765 million) from Jimmy Hoffa', which he apparently lost without any repercussions do you think is 'average parents'?

Shahid Khan was middle class in Pakistan the same way that the Rockefellers are middle class in West Virginia.

Arthur Blank I'm not certain of. I don't know enough about him.

But do go on. What others do you think had 'average parents'?

by Richie :: Thu, 12/07/2017 - 3:55pm

If Jones was born very wealthy, why would he take a loan from Jimmy Hoffa?

If Khan was born very wealthy, why did he have a job washing dishes?

Steve Bisciotti was born working class, and built a staffing company.

Terry Pegula borrowed $7,500 from friends to start an oil company. Though he went to a prep school, so maybe his parents had some money?

It looks like Bob McNair is self-made, but Wikipedia doesn't have much info on him.

I'm not quite sure what Robert Kraft's deal is. It doesn't look like his parents are rich, but it looks like the company he built came through his in-laws, but I don't know if the in-laws were actually rich, or just got him the job there.

Tom Benson was middle-class. He was a car salesman and ended up building a car dealership empire, and investing that money into banks.

Paul Allen's family must have had a little money because he went to private high school. But his fortune came from building Microsoft.

Dan Snyder's father was a freelance writer, but somehow he went to private school in London for a couple years. But his fortune came from an advertising company he built.

Stephen Ross's parents seemed to have a bit of money, but his fortune came from developing a real estate company.

Jerry Richardson appears to come from modest means. He played in the NFL and used the money he earned from playing in the 1959 NFL championship game to open a Hardee's franchise and eventually build a food business fortune.

So that's about 12 owners who, at a minimum, did not have parents (or in laws) with enough money to buy an NFL franchise.

by justanothersteve :: Thu, 12/07/2017 - 8:44pm

Most of them are selfish d-bags regardless of upbringing

by morganja :: Thu, 12/07/2017 - 11:35pm

Do you really think that Jimmy Hoffa lent close to a billion dollars in today's money to some 25 year old?

None of those, except possibly for Richardson, were born anywhere lower than the top 1%.

You've got to stop swallowing these self-made nonsense stories. It takes little to no brains to make a fortune from a fortune. Which is why the owners of the NFL have managed to make billions more while running the NFL like a bunch of complete clowns.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Fri, 12/08/2017 - 5:54am

Your original comment was that they "inherited a fortune".

Then you changed it to "born very wealthy".

You might think they're the same but they're not; so people argued with you.

Imagine how much easier life would be to have people agreeing with you from the start just by being more accurate and careful in what you write.


by morganja :: Fri, 12/08/2017 - 10:37pm

It is to me. You see, I use the terms interchangeably because they are the same. If you disagree, than that is saying something about your position, not mine.
Let's discuss your position that if their parent's were not wealthy enough to buy an NFL franchise, then they are 'average'. Really?
Do you have any concept of the median wealth in this country? That is to say the wealth of the 'average' person?

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Sat, 12/09/2017 - 5:58am

I can't argue with your ignorance of the English language.

"inheriting money" only occurs when your parents have died. Other people immediately responded showing that very few of the owners had parents who had already died. It shows that they also think it's not the same as "born into wealth".

My comment was intended to help you understand why people are arguing against you.

But it appears you just like to have arguments - even with people who want to help you.

by morganja :: Mon, 12/11/2017 - 1:02pm

'Inheriting money' happens long before your parents die, if they employ any kind of competent accountant. Most wealth is transferred to the children, and trusts, long before death to eliminate any taxation.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 1:19am

That's not what "inherit" means.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 12/08/2017 - 7:09am

You need to revisit your inflation calculation.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 12/08/2017 - 7:41am

I have little regard for the Wilfs, due to my contempt for taxpayer subsidized stadiums, but I do want to point out that their parents were Holocaust survivors, who arrived with nothing in financial capital. Zygi Wilf's father started as a car salesman, started dabbling in real estate, then building homes and apartment buildings, with his sons as employees. That's what earned the billion that eventually bought the Vikings, and Wilf, to his credit, credits his father with that. Yes, there are billionaires who do not start fabulously wealthy.

Frankly, owning an NFL team is a secondary business for someone like Allen or Kroeneke, which buys a little more slack for Goodell. The best way to evaluate him, it seems to me, is by comparing him to peers like David Stern or Adam Silver, and when you do that, it becomes more apparent that the owners aren't getting maximum value from the Commissioner position. It may be the case, however, that getting adequate consensus among the 32 owners with regard to a new one would be so difficult as to make Goodell the best thst they can do collectively.

Finally, if you gave most people a billion, they'd turn it into 800 million or less in pretty short order, as opposed to 5 billion. Give most people 10 million, and it'll be dissipated within 1-3 generations. Turning a small fortune into a huge one is not as easy as it may appear.

by RobotBoy :: Fri, 12/08/2017 - 9:52am

So somebody's dad got rich and and his kids piggy-backed on that to owning a team? That's not Horatio Alger by a long shot. Nor is someone getting a million-dollar loan at 25. Don't know about you, but maybe I could have borrowed a c-note from one of my dad's friend at that age.
One of the most pernicious myths about this country is of social mobility and rags to riches. The fact is, most people who make a lot of money start off with a lot of money (Well over 99%, actually). Very, very few people in the contemporary U.S. change social class significantly for the better - in fact, downward mobility is the reality and most of us will be lucky if we have the same resources as our parents (That is, if you're under forty years of age).

by Will Allen :: Fri, 12/08/2017 - 10:48am

Going to work for your father's 15 year old real estate business when you are about 15 or 16 yourself, and participating in the process by which 30,000 housing units were built, is not piggybacking, by any honest employment of language. Now, would your sensibilities be less bruised if Wilf's father and mother had escaped Germany before Hitler started killing Jews, so they had their kids earlier, and Wilf's dad had bought the Vikings, and was still alive today?

I'm not going to violate the 1st rule of FO, and start a political debate, other than to make this unassailable observation. If you asked the median income households of today to adopt the living standards of median income households of 1977, or heaven forbid 1967, you'd have riots in the streets.

by justanothersteve :: Fri, 12/08/2017 - 5:10pm

Median income hasn't yet dropped to 1967 levels. However, it has dropped steadily (in inflation-adjusted dollars) since 2000 (about 10%) which is one of the factors for a lot of the political dissatisfaction on both sides of the aisle. Another 3-4% and it is down to 1977 levels, so a lot of people are already experiencing that level of financial loss.

by Football Michae... :: Fri, 12/08/2017 - 10:57am

Never mind the NBA, consider that MLB has been able to recover and gain new audiences/stay relevant/diversify. The NHL has gone from a pariah/kind of a joke to culturally relevant in NE. The NFL is the only league falling.

[Last point on financial wisdom of people]

You're right. But the kind of people aware of the power of inherited wealth aren't the kind that don't know the real hustles (they're not going to blow it on, say, a chain of strip clubs in Atlanta or country bars in Texas). They know that if you invest it in politics or, say, a major league sports team, you can probably keep your money forever.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 12/08/2017 - 11:34am

Well, "falling" is a pretty relative term. I think the NFL has had some extraordinary good luck for decades, building on some good decisions regarding effective cartel behavior, dating as far back as 1940 or even farther. Now they have had some less good luck, accentuated by Goodell's inept public relations work, which is ironic, since he isn't a lawyer, and public relations is supposed to be his background. Yes, part of his job is to be the whipping boy, but his management of discipline, the national anthem stuff, and turning Kaepernick into a big topic of public attention has been wholly inept.

by Richie :: Fri, 12/08/2017 - 2:33pm

I have no idea what the right way to handle the anthem/Kaepernick is.

There are people who claim to stop watching the NFL because players are kneeling for the anthem. And there are people who claim to stop watching the NFL because Colin Kaepernick has been "blackballed".

by Alternator :: Fri, 12/08/2017 - 7:41pm

From a utilitarian, "Make the issue go away" standpoint, the best bet would have been to pick a team and lean on them to sign Kaepernick, much like he leaned on the Eagles to sign Vick. Kaep had already said he'd stop kneeling, and without the highly visible blackballing the entire issue drops to a low simmer.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 1:28am

Nobody needed to sign him. But a team ought to have given him a tryout.

I think a lot of us don't really appreciate just how much Kapernick became a lightning rod. Teams that needed QBs got lots of letters from fans threatening to cancel season tickets if he were brought into camp.

For Kaepernick this ought to be a lesson about the risks of offending a large section of the fan base if you want to work in the entertainment industry.

Goodell handled this issue poorly in the sense that he provided no leadership whatsoever. He could have done any of the following:
a) excused players from participating in the National anthem altogether
b) tried to impose a punishment for players protesting during the anthem
c) stood up for the players' right to protest

I'm guessing b) would have been popular with many fans, but it would have violated the CBA and he'd have lost in court. But if he'd taken this path, at least the NFL itself wouldn't be bearing the brunt of the blame.

c) would have been popular with the players. But it would have required Goodell more actively standing up to President Trump. And that was never going to happen.

I'd have tried a). I'd also have tried to address the real root of the complaints: the behavior of police. Of course the fans don't want to hear that.

I'm probably not the right man for this job. :)

by MC2 :: Fri, 12/08/2017 - 11:02pm

Getting rid of the anthem issue would be very simple. Just get rid of the anthem, and while you're at it, get rid of all the other flag-waving, military-worshipping pageantry that takes place at NFL games. But the league will never do it, because they are too addicted to the boatload of advertising money they get for promoting the war machine.

by morganja :: Mon, 12/11/2017 - 12:28pm

I agree. But at this point, they have trapped themselves. They can't get rid of it without 'offending' the so called 'patriotic' crowd.
This is why I am arguing that the owners are not brilliant businessmen. This is an easily foreseen unforced error that a truly skilled businessman would have avoided.
They should have known that when they decided to monetize the faux patriotism in 2008, that they were setting themselves up for exactly this situation.
The NFL absolutely needs to avoid politics. They are in a no-win situation as soon as they choose sides.
The faux patriotism was choosing sides.
Jerry Jones, and Robert Kraft apparently, were the authors of the monetize 'patriotism' strategy, which is why Jerry Jones especially is so adamantly trying to avoid blame for his mistake, by blaming Goodell and everyone else.
I don't know what the NFL can do to dig themselves out of this mess, but I imagine whoever they are paying $40 million a year will easily solve this problem for them.

by Richie :: Mon, 12/11/2017 - 2:10pm

I'd be on board for that, for sure.

But I don't think that would solve the problem either. The Kaepernick haters would say the league caved in and now is disrespecting the country because they aren't bringing the players out for the anthem.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 12/08/2017 - 3:51pm

There were rich Holocaust survivors, too. People like the Bauers.

by Richie :: Fri, 12/08/2017 - 2:28pm

Well, my original premise was that a lot of these guys are not idiots, because they grew enough wealth to buy a football team.

Even if Jones' dad gave him $1M in 1965, that million would be worth about $4M in 1989. But he paid $140M for the Dallas Cowboys. So Jones did something to turn $4M into $140M. Most people can't do that.

All the other guys I mentioned have similar stories. At a minimum, they took a wealthy upbringing and used their business sense to make enough money to buy an NFL franchise.

by MC2 :: Fri, 12/08/2017 - 11:12pm

You're wasting your time. Thanks to the "higher education" they receive, there are a large number of people these days who are convinced that every rich person on the planet is pure evil, and amassed every single cent they have through cheating and swindling. No amount of logical argument will change their minds. For these people, the only rich people who deserve their money are left-wing politicians, and celebrities with left-wing political views. They're fine; the rest of the rich are pure scum.

[Two things: First, don't assume from what I wrote here that I have any more of an affinity for right-wing idiots than I do for left-wing idiots. They have their own set of completely irrational shibboleths. But this rant was about left-wing idiots. Second, I won't be making any further comments about this subject, due to FO's (very selectively enforced) "no politics" rule. The last thing I want to do is waste lots of time arguing politics, only to have Aaron come along and delete everything. I've been down that road before, and have no desire to go down it again.]

by Rich A :: Thu, 12/07/2017 - 12:26am

I used to work for a paving company here in Winnipeg and the owners were both exceedingly dumb. Neither of them went past grade 8 in the 70's.

Working there I realized that to make money all you have to do is be willing to take the risk to start a business and be absolutely okay with being completely selfish and taking advantage of others.

And wanting to be big. Growing up in the home of an entrepreneur my dad never really wanted his company bigger than 5 people and that blew my mind. When an employee of his took over he doubled the rates within the month and all the clients still stayed.

by The Ninjalectual :: Thu, 12/14/2017 - 1:34am

These guys make so much money they don't know where to spend it.

What? SPEND it? Are you crazy these kinds of people don't spend money! They greedily and jealously hoard it. These are not happy people, most of them.

by morganja :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 6:50pm

It seems that everyone except the owners foresee this as a disaster for the league. Obviously it's about what a great one-sided deal he made against the players last time. But it would seem that his presence, and the resentment against him, are actually detrimental to a new players agreement.

by Richie :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 7:08pm

Considering the NFLPA has never shown much willingness to really push for what they want, I'm guessing the owners aren't too worried.

They can just keep threatening an 18-game schedule, and then agree to give up on it in exchange for concessions from the players.

I love the NFL, but I would love to see the players kick ass on a CBA negotiation.

by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 9:42pm

Never gonna happen. A strike costs the players way more than it costs owners, because players have short careers, and owners don't.

by PatsFan :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 8:45pm

On the bright side, this means that one of the only two unifying forces in NFL fandom will continue to exist.

by GwillyGecko :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 10:37pm

anyone that suspends a cheater like tom brady is good in my book.

three cheers for the greatest commish in the history of sports, roger goodell!

by amin purshottam :: Fri, 12/08/2017 - 5:07pm

Cheater my ass. Since the joke that is deflate gate and the fact that the footballs are all being carefully guarded, he has won 2 super bowl mvp’s and been the best qB on the planet. So screw your “cheater”.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 9:38pm

I hate that this makes me happy, just because it makes Jerry Jones so unhappy.

by LionInAZ :: Wed, 12/06/2017 - 11:54pm

That. and a lot of excuse making Pats fans too.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 1:30am

Are we still acting like the Ideal Gas Law is an "excuse"?

by dbt :: Thu, 12/07/2017 - 6:38am

My first year of not watching the NFL in any capacity other than incidental background noise has been remarkably pleasant. This news makes me feel like I could go another 5 years and not watch any of it.

Roger's tenure in the NFL has been an absolute disaster for the league. Arbitrary stupidity, unprincipled fights with players and owners, and a PR mindset towards discipline that still manages to be awful PR.

by dryheat :: Thu, 12/07/2017 - 8:00am

I mean, any time you can lock up an employee who has bungled at least 75% of his decisions, has caused a never-before-seen withering of interest in the organization, and has some of the worst PR and interpersonal skills of any leader in the business world, for 5 years at 40 million per, you have to do it.

I'll allow Jerry Jones to literally punch me in the face at will for only 30.

by billprudden :: Thu, 12/07/2017 - 8:12am

I have to believe there is some "knows where the bodies are buried" aspect to this.

by Mike B. In Va :: Thu, 12/07/2017 - 10:03am

The owners are, for the most part, a bunch of conservative old guys. Roger is the devil they know, and has excelled at making himself the one who gets blamed for everything. Change was extremely unlikely, and 1.25 million per team - at the level these guys operate at - is pocket change.

by Football Michae... :: Thu, 12/07/2017 - 12:06pm

His main job is to secure the CBA and take the flak for organizational decisions. The owners get to be not seen and not heard and make money. Outside of the ones who just want to play with their toys like Jones and Irsay that's all they want - and all he gave them