As former NFL player Sean Gilbert tries to give his candidacy for NFLPA executive director some traction, Gilbert has opted to fire shots not at current NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, but at current Commissioner Roger Goodell.
In an email to the media, Gilbert focuses on Goodell’s pay since getting the job in August 2006, comparing his earnings to date with the earnings of various players who entered the NFL in 2007.
Gilbert estimates that Goodell has earned $210 million from 2006 through 2014. This number assumes that Goodell’s pay for 2013 and 2014 matches his 2012 pay of $44.2 million, a number that was inflated by the payment of deferred compensation. Eventually, accurate numbers will be reported by the NFL, via the federal paperwork required to be filed by a non-profit entity. Chances are the numbers won’t be small.
Gilbert compares Goodell’s estimated earnings since 2006 to the lifetime earnings of Lions receiver Calvin Johnson ($94 million), Browns tackle Joe Thomas ($79 million), Vikings running back Adrian Peterson ($69 million), 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis ($50 million), and Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis ($84 million). (It’s not clear why Gilbert didn’t focus on players drafted in 2006, since that’s the year Goodell became the Commissioner.)
Either way, it’s a huge difference. And that’s usually how it works in any company. The guy who runs the show makes a lot more money than the folks who do the day-in and day-out work.
For Goodell, the more accurate comparison would be other folks who perform similar jobs.
Former baseball Commissioner Bud Selig was making more than $22 million per year. The most recent numbers available for NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman show annual earnings of $8.3 million. Former NBA Commissioner David Stern reportedly was making $23 million. So, yes, as Commissioners go, Goodell is doing well.
It also makes some sense to compare Goodell to CEOs in private industry. Goodell’s $44.2 million puts him in the top 15 of this AFL-CIO list of CEO pay for 2013. But Goodell isn’t a CEO in the traditional sense, since the league consists of 32 businesses that are separately owned. Goodell is the guy who holds it all together, and presides over the sport.
Ultimately, Goodell is worth whatever the owners see fit to pay him. Gilbert’s broader point seems to be that the owners pay Goodell a lot of money — possibly because Goodell has made them a lot of money through a labor deal that, as Gilbert consistently contends, has shifted $2.5 billion from the players to the owners since 2011.
Setting aside the question of whether that’s accurate (and the NFLPA would say that it’s not), the question becomes whether Gilbert or anyone else can finagle a better deal than the one the players currently have. And whether the players are willing to miss games via a work stoppage, if Gilbert is able to pull the plug on the current labor deal and provoke a lockout.
Comparing Goodell’s pay to that of players drafted in 2007 could persuade more players to have a negative view of Goodell, but that probably won’t persuade enough of them to overthrow DeMaurice Smith, who currently is making a lot less than $44 million.