For those who want to be a multi-millionaire, the secret is not on LLC Twitter. Starting a business in which you give people personal and financial life advice on TikTok when both aspects of yours are in shambles will not result in a massive payout from advertisers. The easiest way to a life of riches is to do what Roger Goodell has done. Put his privilege to good use and be the pin cushion that protects his employers from a prying media and sports public.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Goodell’s newest contract extension should be finalized next week. Per the New York Times, Goodell was already making nearly $64 million per year. That was already quite a bit more than Patrick Mahomes. The NFL’s biggest star had better continue to look to State Farm to make up the difference in income.
Born into privilege
Goodell is the son of former United States Rep. and Sen. Charles Goodell. His father served in Congress — representing the state of New York — from 1959-71. This is the world that young Roger was literally born into. He was born the same year that his father’s first term in the House began.
Goodell attended high school in Bronxville, N.Y., the same town where he conducted the 2020 NFL Draft from his home basement. Goodell has worked in the NFL since 1982 when he first served as an intern when Pete Rozelle was still commissioner. He stepped down a few years later, and Paul Tagliabue did the same in 2006. Goodell took over after Tagliabue and is responsible for taking the advantages the team owners already had, and increasing them exponentially.
In both the NBA and NFL, ownership locked out the players in 2011 because they were unsatisfied with the revenue split. The players were taking home the larger percentage of revenue and ownership wanted a change. Unlike the NBA, the NFL missed no regular season action in its efforts for more cash. Before that lockout, the owners took home the first billion dollars of league revenue and the rest was split with the players receiving 60 percent. These days players receive 48-48.8 percent of league revenue.
The amount of revenue that the NFL receives is currently more than ever before. This is largely due to the fact that the NFL can guarantee something that no other live broadcast can — viewership. While Goodell was both being praised and castigated for his unilateral stiff punishment of players in the late 2000s, the number of people watching the NFL was already steadying the league for the change in television viewing habits over the next 10 years.
The Super Bowl just prior to Goodell’s takeover was the league’s highest-rated since the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1996. While the starting quarterbacks were Matt Hasselbeck and Ben Roethlisberger pre-motorcycle accident, this game outdid Donovan McNabb and Tom Brady the season before.
Four years into the job, Goodell presented the NFL team owners with his goal of $25 billion in annual revenue by the 2027 season. Per Sportico, the league is very much on track to reach that goal.
The dangers of playing football
While some may want to credit Goodell’s early punitive player punishments for the NFL’s dominance in content, his best work has been in keeping the team owners away from the questions about the existential danger for players in the NFL.
The team owners can answer questions about CTE and all of the other issues surrounding the health of NFL players if they so choose, but it’s Goodell who unflinchingly eats those arrows.
There is serious data available to the public that directly links playing football to future brain damage. Many players that football fans are quite familiar with have taken their own lives, and later been diagnosed with CTE. The number of brains of former football players that have been tested and confirmed to have the disease is frightening. Will Smith made a movie about it.
Yet, television’s most watched product still chugs along. In the front office, former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson was living foul, and he stepped away. Dan Snyder is still technically in control of the Washington NFL franchise, but his dirt has been public knowledge for years. His local fanbase is a top-10 American market that is disgusted with him and actively chooses to withhold their dollars from his team. Maybe that hurts the NFL, but certainly not enough for the other team owners to vote him out of the league and forcefully speed up his exit.
Goodell took over a bulletproof product and arguably his largest contribution has been to be the first NFL employee standing in front of that glass. Aim all concerns, fears, and disgust his way. He can take it. Now in his early 60s, this son of a U.S. congressman will make more money than his father could have ever dreamed.
There is great value in this country to taking blows for wealthier people as long as you’re in a position for the money to rush down as opposed to trickling.