Roger Goodell has signed a five-year contract extension to remain commissioner of American football league the NFL, a deal that could reportedly be worth up to $200m (€172.6m).
The agreement was first reported by NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk website and, although it has yet to be officially confirmed by the league, has been covered by a range of US media outlets. ESPN.com said the new contract would be worth $200m over its duration, if owners approve all the bonuses and all incentives are met. Goodell (right of picture) has led the NFL since 2006 and the contract extension will run through 2023.
ESPN said the base salary of the new contract is in the single-digit millions, with around 85 per cent of the compensation tied to bonus payments. Goodell is said to have earned $212.5m since he was elected NFL commissioner.
The NFL compensation committee, which had been granted authority to negotiate the extension, said it supported the signed contract in a letter to NFL owners. “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,” the letter read.
“We are pleased to report that there is a nearly unanimous consensus among the ownership in favour of signing the contract extension now.”
The path to the new deal has proved far from smooth, however. The NFL last month said it expected a contract extension to be finalised soon despite the threat of a lawsuit from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, one of the most powerful figures in the game.
Jones had taken issue with the proposed deal amid anger at the league’s handling of the case surrounding Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott. The league handed out a six-game suspension to Elliott in August amid domestic abuse allegations, but the 22-year-old played all eight opening games for the Cowboys as the case bounced around the courts only for the ban to finally be imposed last month.
All 32 team owners voted in May to extend Goodell’s contract and authorised the league’s compensation committee to finalise the deal. Jones, who is not on the compensation committee, had expressed frustration over the NFL’s pursuit of criminal matters with its own investigators, with prosecutors in Ohio having declined to pursue the Elliott case.
Jones and the league had accused each other of misleading allegations, with the Cowboys owner having threatened to file a lawsuit if Goodell’s contract extension was completed without final review or approval from the 32 teams.
Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who leads the compensation committee, told the Sports Illustrated website that he was “relieved” that Goodell had signed the deal. Blank (left of picture) said: “I'm happy that it's over. I was just telling Roger that, in the history of the NFL, I'm not sure a big decision has been so transparent as this one. We got a lot of input from a lot of owners, a lot of guidance from them, and we feel very good about what developed out of that.”
Blank said owners will have a more direct line of communication to Goodell going forward, including a session with the commissioner at future owners’ meetings. He added that Jones “understands the contract and how we got here,” adding that the Cowboys owner would be presenting some proposals on league matters important to him soon.
Blank said: “What many owners said in the past few days was they wanted to get on with the business of the league, and there are a lot of issues very important right now that must be addressed. Now we’ll get to focus on the real issues. The important thing is, the owners have confidence in Roger, and they wanted him to continue. There was no doubt about that.”