Good­ell signs ex­ten­sion to lead league through 2024

Com­mis­sioner could make up to $40 mil­lion a year de­pend­ing on in­cen­tives

Woonsocket Call - - Sports - By MARK MASKE The Wash­ing­ton Post

NFL own­ers have com­pleted an agree­ment with Com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell on a fiveyear con­tract ex­ten­sion. Ac­cord­ing to a memo sent Wed­nes­day by own­ers on the league's com­pen­sa­tion com­mit­tee, which ne­go­ti­ated the deal, the con­tract is done and signed.

The deal runs through 2024, with Good­ell's com­pen­sa­tion ex­pected to top out at a max­i­mum of nearly $40 mil­lion per sea­son, though close to 90 per­cent of that pay would be tied to in­cen­tives.

The agree­ment is be­tween Good­ell and own­ers on the com­pen­sa­tion com­mit­tee, led by the At­lanta Fal­cons' Arthur Blank. The com­pen­sa­tion com­mit­tee in­formed the other own­ers via a memo, a copy of which was ob­tained by The Wash­ing­ton Post.

It is not clear whether the deal will run into fur­ther op­po­si­tion from Dal­las Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who threat­ened at one point to sue over Good­ell's ex­ten­sion but since has re­scinded that threat.

Own­ers are sched­uled to meet Dec. 12-13 in Dal­las. Jones sought in­creased in­put by own­ers not on the com­pen­sa­tion com­mit­tee into Good­ell's con­tract, and a fi­nal rat­i­fi­ca­tion vote by all own­ers once the deal was com­pleted.

The league has main­tained that there will not be an­other vote of the own­ers. The own­ers voted, 32-0, at their May meet­ing in Chicago to au­tho­rize the com­pen­sa­tion com­mit­tee to ne­go­ti­ate the new deal with Good­ell.

Jones served for a pe­riod of time as a non­vot­ing mem­ber of the com­pen­sa­tion com­mit­tee. But that ar­range­ment ended af­ter he in­formed other com­mit­tee mem­bers that he'd hired at­tor­ney David Boies and was pre­pared to file a law­suit op­pos­ing Good­ell's ex­ten­sion.

That be­gan a tense stand­off be­tween Jones and other own­ers. There was a flurry of threats, ac­cu­sa­tions and let­ters sent back and forth. Jones ac­cused Blank of mis­lead­ing own­ers about the ne­go­ti­a­tions. He con­tended that such a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment in the com­mis­sioner was not jus­ti­fied at a time when the league was fac­ing fi­nan­cial hard­ships.

Oth­ers own­ers, in re­turn, ac­cused Jones of be­ing guilty of con­duct detri­men­tal to the league. There was talk of po­ten­tial penal­ties that could in­clude a fine, sus­pen­sion or the loss of a Cowboys' draft pick or picks. There were re­ports about the possibility of Jones be­ing forced to sell the Cowboys, a fran­chise with an es­ti­mated value of more than $4 bil­lion. But those re­ports about Jones be­ing stripped of his fran­chise were dis­missed by peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the league's in­ner work­ings as un­re­al­is­tic.

Jones sub­se­quently in­di­cated he would not sue, say­ing he'd been sat­is­fied that other own­ers would have in­creased in­put into the process. The league said there had been no agree­ment with Jones for the threat of a law­suit to be dropped in ex­change for a fi­nal rat­i­fi­ca­tion vote by all own­ers.

Good­ell's ex­ten­sion would keep him in place through the league's ne­go­ti­a­tions for its next col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment with the play- ers' union and its next set of tele­vi­sion con­tracts. Own­ers locked out the players prior to the last la­bor deal be­ing struck in 2011. In Septem­ber, player lead­ers voted to re­tain DeMau­rice Smith as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the NFL Players As­so­ci­a­tion while bar­ring other can­di­dates from vy­ing for the job dur­ing this elec­tion cy­cle.

TV rat­ings for NFL games have sagged over the past two sea­sons, and this sea­son the league and Good­ell have faced in­tense crit­i­cism by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and some fans about players' protests dur­ing the na­tional an­them. Own­ers de­clined to en­act a rule when they met in Oc­to­ber re­quir­ing players to stand for the an­them. They said they in­stead were fo­cused on dis­cus­sions with the players about league sup­port of players' com­mu­nity ac­tivism.

Those dis­cus­sions cul­mi­nated with an agree­ment on a so­cial-jus­tice ini­tia­tive by which the league and own­ers would con­trib­ute about $90 mil­lion be­tween the on­set of the deal and 2023 to so­cial causes con­sid­ered im­por­tant to players, par­tic­u­larly in African-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties. Both sides have said the agree­ment does not re­quire players to stand for the an­them. Peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the own­ers' think­ing have said they could act in the off­sea­son, if the protests last this en­tire sea­son, to change the an­them pol­icy for next sea­son and keep players in the locker rooms un­til af­ter the an­them is played, which would be sim­i­lar to the sport's pre-2009 ap­proach.

A memo sent from the com­pen­sa­tion com­mit­tee to other own­ers Wed­nes­day said that “a bind­ing con­tract ex­ten­sion has been signed by the Com­mis­sioner and by Arthur Blank, on be­half of the League en­ti­ties.”

The memo, a copy of which was ob­tained by The Wash­ing­ton Post, also said: “We are pleased to have re­solved this is­sue and we ap­pre­ci­ate the strong sup­port re­ceived from our part­ners. It was par­tic­u­larly grat­i­fy­ing to hear so many own­ers com­mit to be­ing more en­gaged in League af­fairs and to ex­press the de­sire to work more closely with the Com­mis­sioner and League staff on mat­ters crit­i­cal to the League. We know that we speak for all of you, as well as for the Com­mis­sioner, in say­ing that the NFL is strong­est when our own­er­ship is ac­tive and uni­fied.”

The memo says that own­ers were in­formed by com­mit­tee mem­bers “in re­cent days” of the con­tract's de­tails.

“Our Com­mit­tee unan­i­mously sup­ports the con­tract and be­lieves that it is fully con­sis­tent with 'mar­ket' com­pen­sa­tion and the fi­nan­cial and other pa­ram­e­ters out­lined to the own­ers at our May 2017 meet­ing, as well as in the best in­ter­ests of own­er­ship,” the memo said. “We also have ex­pressed in those con­ver­sa­tions our strong and unan­i­mous be­lief that we should pro­ceed to sign the agree­ment now, con­sis­tent with the unan­i­mous May res­o­lu­tion and to avoid fur­ther con­tro­versy sur­round­ing this is­sue.? We are pleased to re­port that there is a nearly unan­i­mous con­sen­sus among the own­er­ship in fa­vor of sign­ing the con­tract ex­ten­sion now.”

File photo

NFL com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell signed a new con­tract that will run through 2024. Good­ell will be paid up to $40 mil­lion a year if the league reaches cer­tain benchmarks.

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