As the NFL continues to suffer the repercussions from the continued national anthem protests, and the likely correlated decline in viewership, many are questioning the league’s leadership.
After Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones criticized NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract extension, the league’s Compensation Committee decided to discuss the terms of Goodell’s employment. According to ESPN, the contract proposal Goodell submitted in August included a salary of $49.5 million annually, lifetime health insurance, and lifetime access to a private jet.
The details were provided by an unnamed source close to the negotiations. However, NFL Executive Vice President of Communications, Joe Lockhart, denied that Goodell’s proposal contained such stipulations.
The Compensation Committee will discuss the matter via conference call on Monday. After a unanimous vote by team owners last year, the committee was given ultimate power for the negotiation and approval of Goodell’s contract extension.
ESPN noted that Goodell’s current annual salary is approximately $30 million. The reported salary of nearly $50 million would be a significant increase. The contract extension would also allow Goodell to remain commissioner until 2024 — a tenure totaling 18 years.
One owner was reported as telling ESPN that there are “several owners in this league who don’t make $40 million a year.” The owner further stated, “That number for Roger just seems too much,” calling the amount “offensive” and “unseemly.”
The issue arose following a November 2nd Compensation Committee conference call, during which Jerry Jones warned he had “papers drawn up” to file a lawsuit against the league if they approved Goodell’s contract extension. Jones reportedly insists that Goodell’s contract return to the owners for review and adjustment.
Jones’ criticism of Goodell’s contract is reportedly a recent revelation. It’s unclear what, exactly, led to this dispute and threat of litigation. Some say that Jones holds a grudge against Goodell for allowing the continued national anthem protests in the league.
Last month, Jones told reporters that Dallas Cowboys players would be benched for protesting the national anthem. “If there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play,” he said. “If we are disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period…We’re going to respect the flag and I’m going to create the perception of it. And we have.”
He also stated, “We cannot in the NFL in any way give the implication that we tolerate disrespecting the flag … We know that there is a serious debate in this country about those issues, but there is no question in my mind that the National Football League and the Dallas Cowboys are going to stand up for the flag. Just so we’re clear.”
Goodell later announced that NFL players should stand for the national anthem, but did not offer any consequences for failing to do so. He then defended protesting players, stating they’re “not doing this to be disrespectful to the flag, but they understand how it’s being interpreted.”
Roger Goodell’s new proposed contract demands lifetime health insurance and lifetime access to a private jet. Is this an unreasonable demand?
If the contract goes through and Jones takes the issue to court, he could be victorious — in a move, some say, is meant to overthrow Goodell. Sports Illustrated writer Peter King warned, “Do not underestimate Jones. He has won when it has appeared darkest before,” citing past disputes regarding the league and television and sponsorship deals — fights that he won.
If Goodell’s reported contract terms are, in fact, true and enable a tremendous increase in salary and benefits, it’s unsurprising that Jones takes issue — regardless of his feelings toward Goodell. The decisions made on this issue will greatly impact the fate of the troubled league.