Opinion: Wild Salary Dreams

As a general rule in professional sports, a player can earn a massive contract extension by exceeding expectations on the field and contributing to the team.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is currently negotiating his own new contract, but he skipped over the part where the contract is earned.

CBS Sports reports that Goodell is asking for around $20 million in salary and lifetime usage of a private jet for him and his family, among other benefits. The NFL’s six-member compensation committee will finalize negotiations in the coming weeks, all but ensuring that Goodell will remain in power for the foreseeable future with a hefty compensation plan.

Goodell does not deserve anything close to the package he is asking for because he has only served half of the league. He has done plenty to satisfy the revenue-hungry owners that technically have jurisdiction over him.

The NFL is ahead of schedule to reach its goal of $25 billion a year in revenue by 2025, and expanding to international audiences in the United Kingdom and Mexico has produced impressive results.

The rest of the league has not seen the same kind of benefits from Goodell’s term as commissioner. The players that act as the face of the league and its prime revenue source have seen the owners and commissioner turn a blind eye to evidence of a connection between repeated concussions and degenerative brain disease.

Many players end up with careers shorter than four years without a real backup plan or benefits, and even the ones that do succeed are subject to poor money management and eventual bankruptcy.

Players’ salaries may be higher than ever, but little to no job security and an inflexible set of skills can diminish all that these players have built in a short period of time. For most players, there is no real backup plan and there is no safety net provided by the employer either.

Bona fide stars like Calvin Johnson and Patrick Willis have led a tide of early retirements from the NFL as they understood their employers treat them as pawns and that there are better things in life than short-term glory and long-term pain. That trend will continue as long as the commissioner ignores the players’ needs.

Goodell has failed in many areas beyond the treatment of the NFL’s workers.

Discipline in the league has been a laughingstock for his entire tenure. From Spygate to the Ray Rice and Greg Hardy domestic violence scandals, the NFL under Goodell’s leadership has failed time and time again to properly reprimand its players and coaches for cheating on the field and misbehaving off of it.

There is no real way to tell what is right and what is wrong off the field in today’s NFL because the league’s leadership has done a terrible job of enforcing its own rules. Some of the owners have even been so frustrated with Goodell’s leadership that they have openly suggested replacing the man that has played a big part in making their franchises so valuable.

Dollar values of NFL franchises have risen, but public opinion of the safety and ethics of the league and the sport have plummeted and Roger Goodell has accomplished nothing to stop that bleeding. The long-term future of the league is in jeopardy because Goodell has ignored concerning developments that don’t yet show up in the owners’ bottom lines.

Roger Goodell has proven to be very capable of making money for the National Football League and its owners. He has failed nearly every other group invested in professional football. Much like players in a contract year, Goodell needs to prove that he really is capable of fulfilling all of his duties before he is given a monumental contract extension.

Jonah Baker can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @jonahpbaker


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