Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that 17 NFL owners including Jerry Jones had a conference call Thursday and discussed the possibility of halting commissioner Roger Goodell’s pending contract extension.
According to ESPN, there’s a “growing difference of opinion” among NFL owners regarding Goodell’s overall performance as commissioner and this group is generally unhappy with Goodell and the NFL’s front office for a variety of reasons.
Among the concerns are player protests, issues involving the teams relocating to Los Angeles, and the NFL’s handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case.
“You don’t get to have this many messes over the years like Roger has had and survive it,” one owner who was on the call tells ESPN.
Even though there is a sizeable group discussing these concerns, they’re still skeptical they would be able to outright fire Goodell, considering that they would need the approval of 24 owners.
“There is, and was, something that is an issue,” a league source who was not part of the call tells ESPN. “I’d be very surprised about wanting to change Roger. I’d be shocked about that.”
Reports from a few months ago said that a new deal for Goodell was considered imminent but the two parties have yet to officially reach an agreement.
“Maybe Arthur [Blank, the head of the compensation committee] and that committee think they’re on track,” an owner said about Goodell’s extension talks. “But they have a lot more resistance than they counted on — and maybe they don’t know how the resistance is growing as we speak.”
Some of the main concerns from NFL owners is the lack of leadership they see during this important time for the league.
“We just don’t have enough problem solvers,” said another NFL owner. “We gotta get it right or we’re just going to let it burn. Last time I felt like this was before the 1993 CBA settlement. That was just depressing, and Paul Tagliabue and Gene [Upshaw] stepped up and saved it in a spectacular way. We don’t have that feeling right now.”
“That was our recurring theme, that there’s no leadership,” said another executive familiar with Thursday’s conference call. “Everyone [in the league office] is trying to win the latest news cycle, and there’s no long-term vision. It’s just, ‘How can we minimize the bad headlines, maximize the revenue, and move on to the next day?’ And there’s an increasing frustration to that approach.”
Jones has been a central figure in holding up Goodell’s extension and one owner said previously that: “If not for Jerry, this deal would be done.”
Goodell was expected to sign a new five-year extension that would keep him in place as the commissioner through the 2024 season and extend his run to 19 years. However, there doesn’t appear to have been much progress made on the topic.
One report said that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was trying to halt talks of an extension for Goodell after the league suspended RB Ezekiel Elliott six games.
Goodell, 58, was hired as the NFL’s commissioner in 2006, replacing Paul Tagliabue. His contract was extended in 2009 and again in 2012.
During his first 10 years as commissioner, Goodell earned $212.5 million including nearly $32 million in the 2015 fiscal year.
We’ll have more regarding Goodell as the news is available.