Roger Goodell is almost assuredly the highest paid professional sports executive in the United States. On Friday, the NFL told the SportsBusiness Journal that the commissioner made $44.2 million during the 12-month pay period that ended March 31, 2013. The figure was comprised of $3.5 million in salary and $40.36 million in bonuses.
The NFL stressed that $9.1 million of Goodell's pay was from deferred bonus and pension from the lockout period in 2011, and that his true takeaway for 2012-13 was closer to $35 million. Even after excising deferred pay, Goodell may still be the highest sports executive in the country. Before MLB changed its tax status to for-profit, ESPN reported that Bud Selig's contract would pay him $22 million in its final year, though Selig's actual compensation may approach $30 million.
NBA commissioner David Stern reportedly made $23 million per year, and it's unlikely that incoming commissioner Adam Silver will receive a wealthier contract as a fledgling executive. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman took home a relatively meager $8.3 million in the one-year pay period ending in March 2012.
Goodell's 2012 pay is a significant increase over the already exorbitant $30 million he reportedly earned in 2011. His 2011 pay included the $1 salary he paid himself for the duration of the players' lockout while they fought with management over the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement.
Goodell has been somewhat controversial figure at times for his heavy-handed approach to player discipline and his perceived lack of care for player safety. There is no question he has helped the NFL remain an incredibly lucrative product, however. The league reportedly earns roughly $10 billion in annual revenue, with a reported goal of bringing in $25 billion annually by 2027.