Last March doesn’t feel like that long ago. We were all scared during those uncertain times, unsure if we’d have an NFL season, and more importantly, unsure of what the hell we’d do on Sunday afternoons in the fall. Training mice to play football seemed like far too much effort, and so did talking to our loved ones.
As we lost beauty sleep, and dreamed about a time when NFL players actually played and owners watched during our few moments of rapid eye movement, rage and disgust for one man gradually built. Hate him, love him, or loathe him, Roger Goodell will now be the NFL’s commissioner until at least March of 2019.
Goodell made one dollar during the lockout, and after the five-year extension he received today he’ll be making much more than that single shiny dollar for a very long time. There are two years remaining on Goodell’s current contract, meaning the additional years tacked on by today’s deal start in 2014.
The league confirmed Goodell’s extension, a deal that was first authorized by a unanimous vote during the owners meetings in mid-December. The announcement was followed by a stream of verbal handshakes and hearty back slapping. For the sake of your personal health, we’ll only subject you to a few sentences of Goodell drool from Falcons owner Arthur Blank:
“I speak on behalf of 32 NFL club owners in saying we are fortunate to have Roger Goodell as our commissioner. Since becoming commissioner in 2006, the NFL — already the leader in professional sports — has gotten even stronger. As evidenced by this contract extension, we have great confidence in Roger’s vision and leadership of the NFL. Our clubs, players and fans could not ask for a better CEO.”
The exact value of his new deal is unclear, but as Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal observed, it’s pretty obvious that Goodell will get a raise from his current average annual salary of $10 million. Kaplan also noted that if Goodell makes it to the end of this extension, the NFL will have had just three commissioners over the last 59 years. Stability breeds familiarity and success.
When the lockout ended and meaningful football returned, fans forgot the lockout ever existed, which was the expected outcome as long as no regular-season games were lost. The mere threat of losing games made fans more in awe of football’s presence in their living room once it returned, and now the league has morphed into an even greater superpower, with 23 of the top 25 television programs in this year’s TV season occupied by NFL games.
The football fan didn’t waver whatsoever in his undying love for the sport on Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays, and sometimes Saturdays. And because of that, the support of the 32 owners for their commissioner hasn’t wavered either. Goodell guided his juggernaut ship through the volatile waters of a highly divisive labor impasse that forced the average fan to cheer for either the players or those who employ the players. Worse, it forced many to become indifferent, albeit briefly.
The owners did more than survive financially. They’re thriving now, and the tipping point for Goodell in his quest for sustained trust convey monetarily was likely ESPN’s new Monday Night Football contract signed on the eve of the regular season that’s worth $15.2 billion, and represents a 73 percent increase over the network’s previous deal. He followed that up with highly lucrative deals with Fox, CBS, and NBC that reeled in a combined $29 billion, representing a 63 percent hike.
The value of the NFL’s product has increased dramatically despite a potentially crippling blow, and so has the value of Goodell, the man who runs the assembly line and money printing machine.