N.F.L.’s Roger Goodell Was Paid $34.1 Million in 2014


Roger Goodell’s pay package includes a $3.5 million salary and a $26.5 million bonus, among other benefits.

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the N.F.L., was paid $34.1 million in 2014, a year in which the league was tarnished by how it handled domestic violence cases involving several of its star players.

Goodell’s total compensation, released Tuesday as part of the league’s annual tax filing with the Internal Revenue Service, was about 1.5 percent lower than in 2013, when it was about $35 million. Goodell’s pay package consists of a $3.5 million salary, a $26.5 million bonus, $3.7 million in retirement benefits and $350,000 in other benefits.

Goodell’s bonus is calculated in part on new business deals he brought to the league the previous year, which means that his bonus in 2014 reflects broadcast contracts and other revenue brought in in 2013.

While Goodell’s compensation is generous by any standard, the 32 owners chose not to trim his pay even though the league was marred by domestic violence scandals in 2014 that led to calls from Congress, advocates and others for the league to do more to combat violence against women.

To pressure the N.F.L., some lawmakers called for a review of the league office’s nonprofit status, which dates back a half-century. The league defused that threat — and eliminated future scrutiny of Goodell’s pay — by becoming a for-profit organization on July 1. The move means the league will no longer have to make public filings that include the compensation of the top officers at league headquarters. (With the exception of the Green Bay Packers, N.F.L. teams are privately held, for-profit enterprises.)

Calls to strip the N.F.L. of its tax status went unheeded in the past, mainly because the tax code allows industry associations like the league office to operate as nonprofits. The league is also largely unregulated and has many allies in Washington.

Goodell is not paid directly from revenue generated through fans; he is compensated by the 32 N.F.L. owners, who pay millions of dollars in dues each year to run the league. Given the N.F.L.’s revenue relative to that of other leagues, Goodell’s pay is comparable to what commissioners of Major League Baseball and the N.B.A. have received.

The owners have defended Goodell’s compensation, which exceeds what chief executives at some of the country’s largest corporations receive, because they claim he has excelled at growing the N.F.L.’s revenue.

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Indeed, during the fiscal year that began on April 1, 2014, the N.F.L. renewed a deal with DirecTV, which agreed to pay $1.5 billion a year to continue showing games; the Atlanta Falcons and the Minnesota Vikings continued work on new stadiums; the league expanded its number of regular-season games in London to three per season, from two; and Bose became a new league sponsor, replacing Motorola.

Critically, television ratings for the league’s games and the number of fans who follow the league on social media continued to grow.

Goodell’s compensation is determined by a committee that consists of Arthur Blank, the owner of the Atlanta Falcons; Robert K. Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots; and Jerry Richardson, the owner of the Carolina Panthers.

After Goodell, the second highest paid executive at the league office was it chief legal counsel, Jeff Pash, who received $7.5 million in total compensation in 2014.

Eric Grubman, the executive in charge of negotiations to put an N.F.L. team back in Los Angeles, received the third highest pay package, $3.9 million.

The league’s revenue more than doubled in 2014, to $619 million, from $294 million. Teams were asked to make larger contributions to the league to help pay for the fund that lends money to teams that build or refurbish stadiums.

The N.F.L. paid $6.3 million in legal fees to the law firm of Paul, Weiss, which helped the league reach a settlement with retired players, who had accused the N.F.L. of hiding from them the dangers of concussions. Covington & Burling, another law firm, was paid $10 million. The league paid General Electric $10.1 million for “concussion research,” less than the $13.1 million the N.F.L. paid in rent for its offices.

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