Despite falling attendance and declining revenues, as well as player disputes and myriad other challenges, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to be offered a five-year contract extension by the league. If there’s a less-popular CEO who’s about to get a major contract extension, most people would be hard-pressed to name them.
At present, millions of NFL fans are livid with Goodell’s handling of the current anthem controversy, and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has threatened to sue the NFL over Goodell’s extension, as well as the Ezekiel Elliott suspension. Looking that crisis square in the eye, NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said, “… our expectation is this will be wrapped up soon, but we can’t project an actual date … the reporting about potential holdouts around particular issues has not been accurate. I don’t know where it is coming from …”
So, despite all the controversy and the anger on all sides, it appears the contract extension is a done deal. Jones was one of 32 owners who voted, unanimously, to approve Goodell’s extension through 2024.
The Elliott situation underscores Goodell’s tempestuous tenure. Elliott was accused of domestic violence. The league investigated for a year. Prosecutors in Ohio didn’t pursue any charges in the case. Then the league voted to suspend the star running back anyway. Fan opinion was split. Some said the allegation was enough to go on. Others said if the authorities weren’t prosecuting, neither should the league. Count Jones in among the folks in that camp.
Now, though, after multiple appeals, Elliott lost his latest and has been ordered to begin the suspension. Jones was livid at the news, and used the case to vent about his ongoing frustration with the NFL’s internal investigations, which don’t always run parallel to law enforcement investigations into the same cases.
The contract committee said Jones’ anger about this single issue shouldn’t cast a shadow over the other reasons that the owners voted 32-0 to keep Goodell around. Lockhart spoke for the group when he said: “We feel strongly that the 32-0 vote ... gives them the authority to enter into a contract extension… and the committee is moving forward under the assumption they do have that authority.”
That doesn’t mean Goodell is completely out of the woods. Even with management approval, the fan base still has a say. In recent years, NFL fans have not been too happy with the boss.
This discontent has come out on draft day, on social media, and in the current NFL boycott over the handling of player protests. Goodell knows, in his position, there’s no way to make everyone happy all the time, but the number of fans currently unhappy with the league continues to grow. That fact can’t be ignored forever.