In recent years, the National Football League has seen a boom in profits and the driving force behind that is the players. But the highest paid person in the NFL isn’t a player, it’s commissioner Roger Goodell.
In 2014, Goodell made $34.1 million, $11 million more than quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the NFL’s highest paid player. Even more staggering, in Goodell’s nine years as commissioner, he has made $180.5 million.
The 2014 season was a public relations nightmare for the NFL. Star players like Greg Hardy and Ray Rice were arrested for domestic violence and Adrian Peterson, the NFL’s most valuable player in 2012, was indicted on child abuse charges.
While the player arrests hurt the league’s image, Goodell’s complete bochery of their punishments and the lack of investigation drew the most scorn. Rice was suspended for just two games before TMZ obtained video of him hitting his wife. Goodell then changed his ruling and suspended Rice indefinitely.
It was later reported by the Associated Press that the NFL saw the video before TMZ released it, a report Goodell denied.
When Rice appealed his suspension, Baltimore Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome testified that Rice told Goodell exactly what happened, which went against Goodell’s claim that he did not know Rice punched his wife before TMZ released the video.
Goodell was presented a chance to put his foot down and take a stand against violence against women and children from the start, but instead he showed his incompetence in a major way.
But Goodell has also made himself look out of touch and floundering in a different area. His responses to the revelations by doctors about Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, brain damage to football players’ brains as a result of repetitive hits to the head.
After Boston University researchers revealed that 87 of the 91 deceased players they’ve tested have CTE, and even the NFL’s admission that one in three players will suffer long-term cognitive problems, Goodell showed his true colors once again.
When asked by reporters about the risks of playing football, Goodell said, “There’s risk in life. There’s risk in sitting on the couch,” according to the New York Times.
To put the risk of football and sitting on the couch in the same sentence takes an incredible amount of ignorance. Maybe Goodell makes over $34 million per year because of the risk he takes sitting on an easy chair.
If anyone had as many cases of incompetence on such a public stage, they would be out of a job. But Goodell continues to enjoy being the highest-paid person in the NFL.
Meanwhile, he fights desperately to keep retired players with physical, mental or emotional issues from receiving financial support for health care for the remaining years they have left left in their life.
Goodell is looking forward to next year though, when his salary will no longer be public record after the NFL withdrew from their non-profit status.
While the NFL continues to make profits, they are doing it off the backs of the athletes on the field, the same athletes putting their bodies and brains on the line each week.