Roger Goodell’s 2012 compensation was revealed on Friday, and it was massive, crossing $40 million after receiving some additional deferred compensation. Did he earn it? Well, I’d say the owners think he did, and that they are making substantially more money in the last couple of years since the lockout was resolved. That though, doesn’t prevent us from pointing out things that were said leading up to the lockout, and how they don’t match with the compensation package. That included this quote from Eric Grubman: “We have a healthy business. We’re not losing money. But we don’t have a healthy business model.” Players must be so pleased that the new healthy business model involves paying one person $44 million.
In the spring of 2011, the draft class entered with uncertainty, but probably knowing that the new agreement, in whatever form, would result in drastically reduced income. The veterans bought into much of the rhetoric and made it an easy issue for the owners. Plenty of us warned that it was not a wise stance for the veterans to take. Yes, there has been some redistribution of the pay, but most of that has gone to a few stars and big name quarterbacks that have set record-setting deals. Teams aren’t doubling up on the 29 year old journeyman veteran at defensive tackle. The overall salary cap has increased slightly, though plenty of teams have come in well below that number under the most recent agreement, thanks to savings on young players.
As a result, the NFL now has a workforce where a large percentage of the best players are vastly under compensated, and Roger Goodell is compensated very well for accomplishing that. One-third (29 of 88) of all the players that participated in this year’s Pro Bowl entered the league after the lockout began. Those players collectively combined for less than $60 million in yearly compensation under the new rookie wage scale.
The 2011 Draft, as it turns out, has been a very good draft class (we’ll get into just how good in a future exploration). Nineteen players have now appeared in a Pro Bowl, just three years into their careers. Fourteen of them made the Pro Bowl this season, and many are among the very best at their positions: Cam Newton, Marcell Dareus, A.J. Green, Patrick Peterson, Tyron Smith, J.J. Watt, Robert Quinn, Mike Pouncey, Cameron Jordan, Justin Houston, DeMarco Murray, Jordan Cameron, Julius Thomas, and Richard Sherman.
Those 14 Pro Bowlers, combined, have an average yearly salary of $35.7 million under their rookie contract deals (source: spotrac.com).
How big of an impact was the rookie wage structure negotiated during the lockout? If those same star players were compensated equal to the players drafted in the same draft slots a year earlier, they would have collectively made $66.5 million. That difference of $30.8 million, coincidentally, compares to the jump in Roger Goodell’s compensation since the lockout.
Now, I don’t think the owners went, “you saved us from paying J.J. Watt, Cam Newton, and Patrick Peterson a large amount of money, so here you go.” It is a good demonstration, though, of just why Roger Goodell is getting paid a massive amount. He successfully kept owners from paying huge sums to young stars–under the mantra of “they could be the next Jamarcus Russell”–while keeping them cost-controlled into their prime years. Meanwhile, overall player compensation has stayed relatively flat, at a time the income is shooting up with even more television revenue.
That’s worth a lot more than $33 million, and Goodell is just collecting his tip. Players like J.J. Watt and all the other pro bowlers from the 2011 lockout draft class may want to ask him to pick up the check when they get together. It’s the least Roger could do.
[photo image of Goodell and Watt by Michael Shamburger, infographic by Evan Russell]