Money Matters

How Roger Goodell’s $200 Million Payday Compares To America’s Top CEOs


NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has signed a contract extension that runs through the 2023 season. The five-year deal is worth up to $200 million including potential bonuses, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The deal marks the end of a tumultuous negotiation in which fans, players and owners like Jerry Jones questioned if Goodell was worth the hefty paycheck.

Goodell, 58, was appointed commissioner in 2006 and earned $212.5 million during his first 10 years on the job. (His salary for that period was made public due to the league’s tax-exempt status, which it gave up  in 2015, largely due to the negative public relations optics.) Goodell’s compensation was $32 million in 2015, which was the last year reported.

Goodell’s total compensation as commissioner could approach $500 million by the end of his current deal in 2023.

Outrage over CEO pay is one of America’s favorite pastimes. CEOs of S&P 500 companies earned $13.1 million on average in 2016 compared to $37,362 for the average worker in an analysis of proxy statements by the AFL-CIO. The CEO-to-worker-pay ratio was 347 to 1.

So Goodell is hardly the only CEO making bank, but he is near the top of the list compared to the heads of 500 of the largest publicly-traded U.S. firms (see the top 15 below).

Only 10 CEOs in the S&P 500 made more than $40 million in total compensation in 2016, per available data from the AFL-CIO. Goodell’s potential annual paycheck would be higher than IBM’s Ginni Rometty, who oversees a company with an enterprise value of $177 billion and revenue of $78 billion, AT&T’s Randall Stephenson (EV: $338 billion, revenue: $161 billion) and nearly every other head of a big company.

Goodell’s every step is watched more closely than most CEOs as the head of the world’s biggest sports league, and the NFL is a large operation with $14 billion in annual revenue, with its 32 teams worth a combined $81 billion. But the NFL really pales in size compared to America’s biggest companies, whose chief executives almost always earn less than Goodell. The CEOs at PepsiCo, ExxonMobil, JPMorgan Chase, Johnson & Johnson and Wal-Mart Stores all made less last year than Goodell’s projected paycheck.

America’s Top-Paid CEOs In 2016

2016 Total CEO Company Compensation Sundar Pichai Alphabet $199.7 mil Thomas Rutledge Charter Communications $98.5 mil Philippe Dauman Viacom $93 mil Mario Gabelli Gamco Investors $76 mil Leslie Moonves CBS Corp $69.6 mil Fabrizio Freda Estee Lauder $48.4 mil Mark Parker Nike $47.6 mil Alex A. Molinaroli Johnson Controls Int’l $46.4 mil Robert Iger Walt Disney $43.9 mil Mark Hurd Oracle $41.1 mil David Zaslav Discovery Communications $37.2 mil Margaret Whitman Hewlett Packard Enterprise $35.6 mil Robert Kotick Activision Blizzard $33.1 mil Brian Roberts Comcast $33 mil Ginni Rometty IBM $32.7 mil

Sources: AFL-CIO; company proxy statements

Players attack Goodell for the seemingly arbitrary punishments handed down from the league office. Fans lambast Goodell for his contract, his handling of the national anthem protests and countless other issues. But NFL owners have loved watching their franchise values and profits grow under Goodell.

The average NFL franchise was worth $898 million in 2006 when Goodell took the reins of the league as just the fourth NFL commissioner since World War II. Operating profits were “only” $31 million per team. But soaring TV contracts and a more favorable labor agreement have pushed the average franchise value to $2.5 billion with profits of $101 million. And those are the two numbers that explain why Goodell was rewarded with another five years as NFL commish and a blockbuster paycheck.

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