North America’s National Football League (NFL) has confirmed a three-and-a-half-year contract extension for Roger Goodell to continue as commissioner through 2027 after receiving backing from all 32 team owners.
The announcement comes after reports surfaced that a renewal was on the cards in March, with Goodell’s most recent contract set to expire in the first half of 2024.
Speaking to reporters after the NFL’s Fall League Meeting yesterday, Goodell said: “I'm obviously honored to do this job. It's not going to change how I'm approaching my day-to-day job, and it hasn't to date.”
This is the fourth contract extension for Goodell, who took over from Paul Tagliabue in 2006. His previous extensions came in 2009, 2012, and 2017.
In his current term as commissioner, Goodell has overseen the league skyrocketing in terms of popularity and revenue generation, including finalizing a collective bargaining agreement and new media rights deals with CBS, NBC, Fox, ESPN, and Amazon, worth over $100 billion.
The NFL also recently concluded a multi-billion-dollar streaming deal with YouTube TV for its Sunday Ticket package of games, which generates $ 2 billion a year. The league also secured a $110 million deal with national network NBC to exclusively stream an NFL playoff game next year.
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In terms of franchise value, meanwhile, the Washington Commanders were sold for a record $6.5 billion earlier this year, while Goodell has also led the league through periods of intense scrutiny over the way it has handled off-field issues involving players, including domestic violence accusations and response to kneeling during the national anthem in protest over the treatment of African Americans by US police.
Goodell, in addition, navigated the NFL through the Covid-19 pandemic, with the league playing its full slate of games during the period and players receiving 100% of their compensation – a point not lost on team owners whist considering his extension.
He has overseen the NFL ramping up its international profile, with the league staging five international regular-season games this season in London, UK, and Frankfurt, Germany as part of its growth plan. The league has prioritized increasing its international presence after awarding IHMAs to 18 of its 32 franchises across eight countries to build its brand appeal and fanbase globally.
The eight IHMAs are the UK, Germany, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Spain, China, and Australia. Franchises are not limited to just one and indeed in some cases now have access to three.
Responding to being asked what he wants to accomplish over the next three-and-a-half years, Goodell said: “From my standpoint, there’s still a number of things we want to do as a league.
“It's not my agenda. As a matter of fact, when we talked about the long-range plan, we talked about this is your long-range plan, this is our long-range plan.
“There are a lot of challenges out there, but there are also a lot of opportunities for us, and we're focused on how we make the NFL better every day, how we become a global sport. I think some very exciting things are happening in that context and I feel really good about where the NFL is today, but we don't sit around and tell ourselves that. We really shouldn't, and we really focus on what are the things we need to do.”
The 64-year-old’s last five-year extension in 2017 was expected to be his last but some believe this will be his final contract with the league as the two previous commissioners also stepped down from the role in their mid-sixties.
Pete Rozelle departed when he was 63, while Tagliabue left when he was 65.
Goodell's present contract runs through March 2024. His annual compensation is under $10 million, but the yearly pay is believed to be around $40 million through incentives, most of which are tied to the league’s overall revenue.
He joined the league as an intern in 1982 before rising up to the rank of executive vice president and chief operating officer in 2001.
Meanwhile, the NFL owners voted to allow teams an additional $100 million in debt, increasing the overall limit per team to $700 million, as they look to adapt to the steep rise in team valuations and interest rates.
The NFL has previously opted for conservative debt limits, but skyrocketing team valuations have seen more borrowing against teams. The move is seen, in part, to make any potential sale more attractive to buyers, who can now put more debt into the team.
The call to increase the limit was tabled by Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, who initially proposed to increase it to $100 million.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Irsay said: “I thought it should be closer to $1 billion. We’re always granting special waivers anyway; I’d rather see a higher debt limit in general.”
The NFL first raised the debt limit from $200 million to $250 million in 2015 but by last year, the limit had increased to $600 million.
However, the league did not vote on raising the debt limit for purchasing a team. Currently, a buyer can only have $1.1 billion of debt. Josh Harris’ $6.05 billion acquisition of the Washington Commanders used $1 billion of debt.